That is the most intriguing question of the day on Wall Street because on the answer hangs fortunes—to be made and lost.
If there were a rational answer it ought to be the best and easiest—though of course there are no guarantees—but there does not appear to be one—nevertheless we should at least give this intriguing question a good hard think.
An easy, though possibly flip, answer may be that it really does not matter, on the risk down side particularly, who is President and what he/she may have in mind.
Our Presidency has the ‘appearance’ of being the single most powerful position in any democratic system, yet that position is not alone in our system and perhaps when the system, as a whole, is presented with things that simply make no sense,[as has been the case several times so far this year] the system has its own ways of quietly, but effectively, essentially preventing the wrong things from happening.
About 10 days before the election a year ago, I ran into a quite sensible, successful businessman who surprisingly said that he was planning to vote for Trump. His explanation was simple. He deplored both Trump and Clinton. But he could not stand her more. He felt that the ‘system’ could “manage” Trump better than Clinton. But, that she could NOT be managed by the system because she was the system.
That quite astonishing idea looks more and more plausible every day that passes.
Take a few examples:
1- Cutting back on freedom of travel for specific foreigners: very quickly the system in the courts and the federal bureaucracy largely have—at least so far—made Trump’s main aim fail.
2- Killing Obamacare without a substitute in hand: the almost unimaginable thing happened and several key Republican votes disappeared preventing that outcome.
3- Flirting with war in Asia and the Middle East: DOD and State, depleted as they remain, have so far blunted Trump’s instinct to govern by Tweet—still, things are very touchy, but at the moment better than the alternatives.
4- Leaving the Paris Accord on climate change has nominally occurred but it is still like a fish wiggling on the dock in Trump’s net waiting to get back in the sea.
5- Reforming taxes and passing the budget are up next: the outlook for the most egregious elements- such as tax breaks for the very rich like Trump– proposed are pretty dim—thank goodness!
6-The Trump efforts to revert to protectionism have been pretty well bottled up in the Congress, so far! Trade wars would be inevitable and be very costly to the US and world economies and ALL Americans.
There are a few things Trump has put forward that the stock market surely must like. Tax breaks for the rich have in the past been popular but given the budget demands they are very unlikely. Less regulation of Wall Street and businesses is also historically popular with the stock market but is also still quite constrained. That said these two items could not alone account for today’s markets.
It is true that people/investors generally believe in what they like and discount what they do not like.
What all this adds up to, and says to me, is that my Trump voting acquaintance pretty well foresaw what has happened so far.
While the Obama Presidency surely was not perfect, his economic policies added up over his 8 years as President to a solid foundation for today’s economy sufficient to justify most of today’s current stock market highs.
Therefore perhaps we can relax—just a tiny bit—about the puzzling inconsistencies between stock market highs and the uncertainties of Trump’s Presidency.
That said, we cannot cease being VERY vigilant.
And, to sell today’s market short might well turn out to be a big mistake!