Well, with markets rebounding sharply following the news that the FBI was ending its review of Hillary Clinton’s emails, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that, near-term, the markets see a Clinton Presidency as a plus. Markets in general have a preference for the known over the unknown, and I suspect that is how the market perceives the two candidates. The above narrative squares with PollyVote, which still shows Clinton with a comfortable lead in the popular vote at 52.5% versus Trump at 47.5%. The lead has narrowed from a peak of 54.1% (45.9% Trump) on October 26th.
I would reiterate that both Trump and Clinton have far more business endorsements than Barack Obama did in the 2012 election, with Clinton in the lead here by far. I think that’s one of the more important things to keep in mind about this election, namely, that the business community sees both of these candidates as being more pro-business than it did President Obama. That should go some way towards moving some of the corporate cash off of the sidelines and into capital spending, which has been notably weak during this expansion. And that is a plus I see irrespective of election outcomes. The other insight from this election has to do with secret information released by WikiLeaks and other sources. Numerous spin-offs like WikiLeaks have been created around the world, and in my opinion this could signal an era of unprecedented transparency and consequent accountability in politics that we have never had. How’s that for a positive spin!
And while the press is making much of the mud-slinging in the current campaign, any political historian will tell you it is far from unprecedented. In recent meetings, I have heard several people wish for the old days when such opposites as Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill could sit down over a beer at the end of the day. In fact, I have heard the Reagan/O’Neill story so many times in the last few weeks that I am beginning to believe that it is notable more as an exception to the way things were than as a reflection of what was then the norm. Looking ahead, I think the press, lacking the hype of the election to fill its 24 hour news cycle, will reach into what I like to call the “Armageddon file cabinet” for its next big issue. Government debt/deficits is a reliable one, as are rising militarism in Asia and Russian aggression. Climate change is kept for emergency use only, that is, for exceptionally slow news weeks. That’s not because it isn’t important, but rather because it doesn’t poll well. A recent United Nations poll, for example (almost 10 million voters globally), ranked climate change dead last among a list of 16 top concerns (e.g. education, better roads, internet access). The reality is that your and my success depends upon casting our votes and moving on, while media success depends upon quite nearly the opposite, or going from one event or crisis to another.
Posted on Mon, November 7, 2016
by Danny Aleman