US Election 2020 | Biden Emerges as Winner
09 November 2020
Biden Crosses Finish Line 

Joe Biden has been declared as the 46th US president after winning Pennsylvania. Although there are votes left to be counted, they are minimal and unlikely to change the presidential election result.

Donald Trump has yet to concede and he has filed multiple lawsuits, accusing the Democrats of election fraud without providing any evidence. Election analysts believe that the lawsuit claims are weak and are unlikely to change the presidential election result.

However, the Senate election race has not ended. Both parties have not yet secure the majority seats as there are still two seats in Georgia that will be heading for runoff elections in January 2021.

Runoff elections are second elections held if no candidate in the first election received a majority of the votes. At the time of writing, it is likely that Republican will eventually gain Senate control. 

Under a Biden administration, US-China trade war risk may temporarily recede if Biden lowers tariff on China. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has ruled Trump's tariff on China as illegal. However, it is important to note that US-China relationship is unlikely to revert to pre-Trump era. Both Democrats and Republicans remain untrusting towards China. Biden has also promised to be tough on China during his election campaign. The long-term conflict between the two nations are likely to persist. In short, Biden will be "less bad" for China but we should not expect an end to US-China conflict.

Unlike Trump, Biden is not erratic and he intends to cooperate with other democratic nations including Canada, Germany, UK and Australia. Trump's tariffs on these allies are likely to be reversed.

In the US, a Biden presidency opens an opportunity to reduce polarisation between Americans over the next few years. For US corporates, Biden has proposed to raise corporate taxes, raise minimum wages and increase regulation. But with a Republican Senate, most of these proposals will not be approved. That helps explain the US stock market rally in recent days.

With a Democratic president and a divided congress, another round of large fiscal stimulus could be delayed and reduced in size. This will imply weaker US economic activity in the coming months. US Treasury yield has declined to price-in this scenario.

To conclude, geopolitical uncertainties will be reduced in the absence of an erratic Trump once Biden is formally installed in January 2021. In the next few months, US economic activities could soften due to the likely delay and reduction in size of the next fiscal stimulus. Sectors that are highly sensitive to macroeconomic momentum will face headwinds. On the positive side, US corporates will not see material changes to taxes, minimum wage and regulation if the Republican wins the Senate. 
Investment Implications

We expect global bond yields, anchored by G3 rates, to stay low driven by the lack of stimulus, recent rise in Covid-19 pandemic cases and the Federal Reserve’s commitment of lower-for-longer Fed Fund Rates. As global risk-free rates stay low, we believe investors will continue to search for yields by deploying cash into asset classes that provide higher carry. This bodes well for Asian credits and we continue to maintain our exposures into Asian credit space.

As a Biden administration reduces geopolitical uncertainties, the USD is likely to resume its weakening trend especially against Asia FX over the medium term. A smaller fiscal package may boost the USD in the near term, but over the long run, the interest rate differential between US and Asia is favourable to Asia FX.

A weaker USD, coupled with reduction in geopolitical uncertainties, should help drive the outperformance of emerging markets (EMs) and Asian stock markets. In the near term, US stocks should face a weaker growth environment due to the lack of stimulus. But they will benefit from the absence of higher taxes, minimum wage and regulation. Lower-for-longer Fed Fund Rates will also be supportive to stock markets. Growth stocks, particularly those in technology sector, tend to benefit from low Fed Fund Rates. Our regional equity funds have remained highly invested through the US election.
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Managing Director
Teng Chee Wai is the founder of Affin Hwang Asset Management Berhad (Affin Hwang AM). Over the past decade, he has built the Company to be the fastest growing and only independent investment management house in Malaysia’s top three, with an excess of RM47 billion in assets under management as at 31 December 2018.​

​In his capacity as Managing Director / Executive Director, Teng manages the overall business and strategic direction as well as the management of the investment team. His hands-on approach sees him actively involved in investments, product development and marketing. Teng’s critical leadership and regular participation in reviewing and assessing strategies and performance has been pivotal in allowing the Company to successfully navigate the economically turbulent decade.

Teng’s investment management experience spans more than 20 years, and his key area of expertise is in managing absolute return mandates for insurance assets and investment-linked funds in both Singapore and Malaysia. Prior to his current appointments, he was the Assistant General Manager (Investment) of Overseas Assurance Corporation (OAC) and was responsible for the investment function of the Group Overseas Assurance Corporation Ltd.​

​Teng began his career in the financial industry as an Investment Manager with NTUC Income, Singapore. He is a Bachelor of Science graduate from the National University of Singapore and has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Actuarial Studies from City University in London.
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