Are Bernie & The Donald Killing The Market?

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Are Bernie & The Donald Killing The Market?

February 16, 2016 Newsletter 0

As the Dow continues its roller coaster, all the prognosticators are coming out with their boogeymen. The latest? Presidential candidates.

While most economists are looking for answers by trying to grapple with Chinese economic data, movements in oil prices, and talk of negative interest rates, a growing number are starting to look at the Presidential race as a source. And they may be onto something – regardless of which side and candidate ultimately triumphs.  Barron’s seems to think so – the candidate’s impact on the market was their cover story this week (read it here).

Now, before I go any further, Barron’s didn’t make it political and I’m not going to make this political. So don’t read any political leaning into this.

The thinking goes that those who buy and sell stocks don’t like their boats rocked, and prefer candidates like Jeb or Hillary – establishment figures who won’t upset the status quo. As it happens, Hillary seems to be reliving 2008 all over again and Jeb is seemingly too professional to make many waves in an entertaining GOP race. The two biggest names in the news right now are:

Donald Trump – Republican

A real estate mogul and reality television fixture with a reputation for shooting from the hip. He’s promised to punish China and other global importers with tariffs to level the playing field for domestic companies, a measure that’s seen historically as a cause for the Great Depression. He’s also promising immigration reform that includes building a wall across the Mexican border, deporting 12 million illegal immigrants and barring entry to the United States to Muslims.  These proposals, even within the GOP, are seen as cause for great civil strife. The economic effects of both measures are cause for market worry.

And number two after Trump for the GOP is El Senador Ted Cruz, whose proposals include the dissolution of major government departments, including the IRS, while returning to the gold standard. As Barron’s notes, it’s hard to find a single economist in favor of those proposals.

Bernie Sanders – Democrat

A self-professed Democratic Socialist that’s riding a progressive platform we haven’t seen since FDR, Bernie’s proposals look great on paper, but could prove to be expensive and would likely result in the greatest peacetime expansion of government in U.S. history.

As both of these candidates rise in popularity, the S&P 500 declines. While correlation is not causation, more than one economist seems to think there’s a strong connection.

Greg Valiere, a strategist with Horizon Investments, was quoted in an internal memo stating “Financial markets… now have to deal with the likelihood of political instability for months to come.” Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist for Wells Capital, has said that the market may be reserved right now as it faces a glut of well-performing anti-establishment candidates. He says “ All big decisions are global, and there is some apprehension about an oddball candidate as president on the global stage.”

Even without the market, this was shaping up to be one of the more important presidential elections in U.S. history. Regardless of what happens, it’s going to be interesting.

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