Better Sentiment and Lots of Tax Talk
It should come as little surprise that sentiment among corporate executives improved during the fourth quarter of 2016. We saw relatively more use of strong and positive words compared with weak and negative words in our analysis of earnings conference call transcripts. Talk of recession remains virtually nonexistent, supported by solid economic data of late. Significant discussions of taxes also came as no surprise given market participants’ focus on corporate tax reform and the possible border adjustment tax. Finally, currency and China continued to garner a lot of attention, while energy and Brexit faded. Note that our analysis covers fourth quarter 2016 earnings calls that took place from mid-January through the first three weeks of February.