Just when you might have thought that President Donald Trump had got some ground off the Chinese to avert a trade war, which should have sent stocks higher, along comes this tech crunch created by the Facebook fiasco.
And when you add the trade war concerns, which took stocks and our super balances down dramatically over the past few weeks, to these new concerns over US tech companies, it raises the question, why is our stock market and super copping the back wash from a Facebook problem?
I’ll get to that in a moment.
In case you come from planet Mars, Facebook (one of the biggest and most influential companies in the world) stands accused of playing fast and loose with our data. And like all stories today, somehow the President’s fingerprints are possibly all over this market-crushing story.
Our data ended up with Cambridge Analytica (CA), which Vox.com says is “a political consulting firm that did digital work for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 and has close ties to Steve Bannon…” and a big Republican donor.
The data was allegedly obtained by an outside researcher, who then made it available to CA.
This company was already under observation from the special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
This is a long tale and the facts are disputed but the big issue not disputed by anyone outside Facebook is that the famous tech company hasn’t done enough to protect our data. So?
Well, the following has happened, or might happen, and these things hurt Facebook’s share price and other tech companies that make their money out of having data:
• Consumers might desert Facebook.
• Any company that holds great data bases and uses them unwisely could lose customers.
• Government regulations to address privacy concerns could add costs and kill revenue from these tech firm.
• Any laws to harness big tech firms’ use of data could eventually affect other data-using businesses.
Facebook’s share price is down close to 20% in a month and its target price from a Bank of America analyst has gone from $265 to $210 since the scandal broke.
And it comes when CNBC runs with a story that Amazon fell as much as 7.4%, after Axios reported that President Donald Trump was “obsessed” with the company.
The headline today is: “Trump wants to ‘go after’ Amazon over taxes, but Congress and the Supreme Court could settle the issue for him.”
But the question remains: why is our stock market affected when our market isn’t habited by many significant hi-tech stocks?
Well, it’s the old maxim: when Wall Street sneezes, we catch a cold story.
The S&P 500 Index has the top 500 companies in the USA inside its numbers and the total market cap of these businesses is around $23 trillion. But Amazon, Apple and Alphabet add up to $2.3 trillion (or 10% of the Index). Throw in Microsoft and Facebook and that’s another $1.1 trillion. And, in total, that’s close to 15% of the Index!
And on top of that, Technology as a sector inside the S&P 500 is 25%! That’s how heavily-slanted the USA is towards tech companies and when they have the problems I described above, it hurts Wall Street and it then hurts us.
Stock markets hate uncertainty and Facebook, trade wars and just about everything Donald Trump is connected to nowadays breeds market nervousness. So has Donald been worth it, hip pocket-wise?
When he was elected in November 2016, we were around 5180 but some of that low level was created because of pre-election Trump anxiety. But we’re now at 5789, so we still have some of the ‘Trump bump’ of the stock market left but the US President needs to get his market mojo working before this ‘healthy correction’, as many of us called the first pullback of the market in early February, turns into something nastier than a little cold.
I’m not ready for a case of a full blown financial flu!