The highly-anticipated first presidential debate of 2016 is finally upon us. The event is expected to draw a record TV audience of 100mm likely making it the most-watched presidential debate of all time. The candidates are expected to come out swinging as Politico points out that debates are typically won or lost in the first 30 minutes:
That’s when Al Gore first sighed, Mitt Romney knocked President Obama on his heels, and Marco Rubio, earlier this year, glitched in repeating the same talking point — over and over and over. It’s when Gore tried, unsuccessfully, to invade George W. Bush’s space, Richard Nixon was first caught wiping away sweat with a handkerchief (during the moderators’ introductions!) and Gerald Ford in 1976 made the ill-advised declaration that, “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.”
With that, here are all the things that you need to know but are likely too lazy or simply not interested enough to track down on your own.
Start Time: 9PM EST
TV Coverage: Debate will be aired on all the major broadcast and cable news networks
Event Location: Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.
Moderator: Lester Holt of NBC
Topics: Debate will cover 3 topics including: “Securing America,” “America’s Direction” and “Achieving Prosperity“
Length: Debate set to run 90-minutes straight with no commercial breaks (So if a coughing fit breaks out we’ll get to enjoy every second of it.)
Other: Debate moderator Lester Holt does not have the authority to cut away from the stage during the epic 90-minute showdown and Microphone audio for either of the candidates is not to be manipulated.
Gennifer Flowers: The first scandal of the debate erupted over the weekend as the candidates traded tweets over who they would invite to watch the debate live in New York. Hillary first announced plans to invite Mark Cuban, who has been critical of Trump, to which Trump responded with a threat to invite former Bill Clinton mistress Gennifer Flowers (see our post here).
Podium-gate: The next point of contention proves that “size does matter”, at least to Hillary Clinton. Last week, Hillary’s team demanded a step stool for their candidate so that the 5’4″ Hillary wouldn’t look small and frail beside the larger 6’2″ Trump. While the debate commission denied the step stool they did allow a “custom-made” podium which was presumably scaled down by exactly 14% to match Hillary’s relative stature…this is the status of American politics folks. Here’s a look at the podiums to be used tonight:
Moderator “Fact Checking”: Of course, one of the biggest points of contention is whether the moderator, Lester Holt, will “fact check” candidates during the debate. The Trump campaign has already stated that it does not believe Holt’s purpose as moderator is to police each candidate citing issues that arose in a 2012 debate in which CNN’s Candy Crowley “fact checked” Mitt Romney on the fly even though her “facts” were entirely wrong…oops. Per the Daily Mail, the Clinton campaign, on the other hand, is already crying foul with manager Robbie Mook saying that “it’s unfair to ask that Hillary Clinton both play traffic cop with Trump, make sure that his lies are corrected, and also to present her vision for what she wants to do for the American people.”
Ear Mics: The next scandal arose out of the last Commander in Chief forum hosted by Matt Lauer in which Hillary was accused of wearing an ear piece so as to receive guidance from advisers during the discussion. According to the World Tribune, the issue prompted one Maryland voter to write a letter to the Federal Elections Commissioner, Matthew Petersen, seeking assurances that ear pieces would not be allowed though no such assurances were provided. That said, Carlos Greer, of the Commission on Presidential Debates, sent out a message to news organizations on Sept. 9 banning devices that would allow presidential debate moderators get directions from their news teams.
THE WALL STREET VIEW
Meanwhile, per Bloomberg, here’s what some wall street analysts think of the event that Goldman Sachs Group Chief U.S. Equity Strategist David Kostin dubbed “the biggest match-up since the Mayweather/Pacquiao bout.“
Athanasios Vamvakidis, head of G10 FX strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch:
“Having been in the driver’s seat for most of the year, central banks can now take a break and wait for the U.S. elections. We have been arguing that markets are underpricing the risks involved. As the polls now suggest a much narrower gap between the two candidates, we feel even stronger about our concerns…We see several clear fault lines where the outcome of the U.S. elections will likely matter for EM FX, namely: U.S. fiscal policy, trade policy and associated concerns over rising protectionism, U.S. corporate tax policy and repatriation of overseas earnings and finally geopolitics.”
Andres Jaime Martinez, FX and rates strategist at Barclays Capital Inc.:
“The single most important event in the U.S. will be the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump which is set to take place from 9pm to 10:30pm ET. It takes particular relevance as the share of undecided voters is somewhat higher compared to four years ago. Since the presidential race has been tightening, it seems that swing states will have increasing relevance as well as undecided voters in shaping the outcome.
As the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has tightened and we approach November 8, we expect a tighter correlation between the financial asset prices and the subjective assessment of the outcome of the elections. The higher percentage of undecided voters (around 20 percent) compared to four years ago (12 percent) increases the relevance of the debates as they could shift the odds in either direction. High yield and high beta assets should perform well except for those tightly linked to the outcome of the U.S. election as volatility has receded from its temporary spike.”
David Kostin, chief U.S. equity strategist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.:
“The first U.S. Presidential debate will take place on Monday, September 26 and viewership may approach Super Bowl proportions with an audience of perhaps 100 million…Regardless of victor, the most likely policy outcome of the election is increased fiscal spending. We recommend clients vote with their wallets and focus on the likely beneficiaries.
Health Care appears to be the sector most at risk from the election. Sec. Clinton’s criticism of drug pricing and Mr. Trump’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act have drawn investor focus to the sector as the election approaches. Health care providers are among the few industries that have demonstrated a statistical relationship with election odds in recent months.”
Martin Enlund, chief currency strategist at Nordea Markets:
“Most market participants are however greatly concerned that the U.S. could see a Republican in the White House. It is generally perceived that a Donald Trump presidency would be consistent with greater global economic-political uncertainty (troublesome for investment activity and manufacturing growth), and that Trump poses a risk to world trade, and so on.
As a consequence, similar to the wide-spread Brexit fears this summer, it might make sense for various accounts to not sell EUR/SEK if they fear that a Trump presidency could impact upon the global economy negatively.”
And, of course, the debate comes as the national polls reflect a very tight race…
As we’ve said before, grab your popcorn, this is going to be fun…
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