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Election Eve: Brace for a Big Correction

By Nick Lanyi on November 7, 2016

To paraphrase Gerald Ford, our long national nightmare is almost over.

Barring a recount or challenge, we’ll know our next president by early tomorrow morning. And not a moment too soon.

It’s been a brutal campaign. The contrast between the candidates couldn’t be starker. Neither could the claims of catastrophic consequences should one or the other be elected.

In the short run, all bets are off if Trump wins. Markets love predictability, and Trump is less predictable than any presidential candidate in modern history, by design. “I want to be unpredictable,” he has said on more than one occasion.

His rhetoric suggests the possibility of a trade war, and economic disruptions if he makes good on his pledge of mass deportations, to name just two things that give investors jitters.

As we said last week, we could see a sharp selloff. How much is anyone’s guess, of course, but a recent paper by University of Michigan’s Justin Wolfers and Dartmouth’s Eric Zitzewitz predicts 10% to 15%. Barclays says 11% to 13%.

We recommended that now would be a good time to raise some cash and be ready to bargain hunt.

In fact, we’ve already seen some of the selloff over the past nine days. The S&P 500’s longest-ever losing streak, a 3% decline in total, is partly due to tightening of polls. The more likely a Trump victory, the worse the stock market behaves.

Notably, the U.S. dollar and stock-market futures rallied around the world Sunday after FBI Director James Comey announced that the recently renewed inquiry into Hillary Clinton-related emails was over – and basically amounted to an “oops, never mind.”

On the other hand, if Clinton wins and the Democrats win both the Senate (probable) and the House (unlikely), they could enact an agenda burdensome to business, and that could be bearish.

Long-Run Record

Whatever your own political leanings, one area we can feel somewhat safe about is the stock market–in the long run.

Check out this chart. Of the past 12 presidents, dating back to Harry Truman, only two presided over a stock market decline: Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. Of the other 10, the lowest average annual gain was 6%.

President

S&P 500 Average Annual Gain

Truman

9.1%

Eisenhower

10.3%

Kennedy

8.9%

Johnson

6.7%

Nixon

-5.1%

Ford

18.6%

Carter

6.0%

Reagan

9.4%

George H.W. Bush

11.9%

Clinton

14.9%

George W. Bush

-4.6%

Obama

12.7%

 

The lesson here is not that it doesn’t matter who is president. But while the president has a big influence on elements of the economy, he or she isn’t suddenly going to stop consumers from shopping online, or patients from requiring prescriptions, or kids from playing video games, or seniors from downsizing to condos.

The economy lumbers forward. The world keeps turning. And well-run companies will keep generating profits. We at Investing Daily just roll up our sleeves, do the analysis and identify them. And right now we recommend you get some cash ready if things turn ugly.


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