President Trump Will Make Money for Investors
Like most Americans, I spent Tuesday night (and well into Wednesday morning) watching the election returns and the market reaction to them around the world. My first thought was that I was watching Brexit II. Australia and Japan got off to a shaky start at 6 P.M. and 7 P.M. EST respectively. Then things just got worse as the sun trekked east, with the rest of the world obviously not expecting a Trump presidency.
It’s easy to understand how they were taken off guard. Just few predicted Brexit, all the pollsters, pundits and the even the bookies reckoned Clinton was a virtual lock for the presidency.
Judging by the street protests that are popping up, the angst of this election season is far from over. Politically speaking, it’s not hard to see how Clinton voters might feel jilted; while many of them may not have been in love with her, she appears to have won the popular vote.
But the bookies don’t pick presidents and the popular vote doesn’t quite do it either – that’s left up to the electoral college.
Civics lesson and personal political views aside, we investors can still make money during a Trump administration. Most global markets – including our own – have surged in the election’s aftermath. If nothing else, the certainty of what we’re dealing with has cut some tension.
I feel confident we can expect America’s energy industry to make a comeback. Trump has said he favors opening more federal land to mining, drilling and fracking, and that we would roll back a slew of environmental regulations. Emissions rules from the EPA were a major drag on the coal industry, forcing utilities to switch coal-fired generation to cleaner fuels, putting a big dent in demand for coal (incidentally, less regulation will also benefit electric utilities). The oil and gas industry also worried that a Clinton administration would crack down on fracking, which isn’t likely now.
Less regulation will also benefit our domestic steel industry. Not only have steelmakers faced pretty intense foreign competition, steel making can be a pretty nasty business environmentally speaking. It has faced tight EPA regulation dealing with air and water quality, which has made U.S. steel less price-competitive with foreign-made steel.
Healthcare will also get a boost, particularly drugmakers. The third quarter wasn’t particularly kind to big pharma, mostly because it had stepped back price increases fearing a Congressional backlash. Mylan CEO Heather Bresch got the grilling of a lifetime over her company’s increases in the price of EpiPens. With President Trump in the White House and a Congress in firm Republican control, that isn’t likely to be much of a worry.
Since this is Income Without Borders, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you what to buy internationally, but I think the waters are still a bit murky there. I can tell you that I would avoid Mexican stocks and the peso though. While the Mexican government has said it wants to maintain friendly relations with America and is willing to work with President Trump, it has also made it abundantly clear it isn’t paying for any wall. Since it’s safe to say a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border was a cornerstone of Trump’s campaign, that issue is bound to cause some friction.
On top of that, if Trump does tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which allows the virtually unfettered movement of goods across the U.S.-Mexican border and Canada, that’s going to hurt the Mexican economy. Mexico exported $295 billion worth of goods to the U.S. last year, making us Mexico’s second-largest export market. That is a two-way relationship though, since we exported $295 billion worth of goods to Mexico, so tearing up NAFTA will cut both ways.
I’d also be leery of anything in Eastern Europe. The Obama administration hasn’t maintained particularly friendly relations with Russia, spearheading the charge for international sanctions following Russia’s Crimean adventure, which has obviously created tension between the two countries. Trump seems to be more conciliatory with Russia though, which is already making Eastern Europe nervous, and little taste for intervening the region. The U.S. and NATO are widely seen as the only forces checking Russian expansionism in the region so, without that protective umbrella, Russian President Putin has a freer hand to pursue his own agenda.
True, there aren’t many Eastern European companies that trade on U.S. exchanges, but there are a few dozen that are available over-the-counter. There are also quite a few mutual funds and ETFs that focus on the region, so I’d steer clear.
So while the angst of this election isn’t over yet, there are plenty of places to make money in stocks even if you have to avoid a few others.