Donald Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee. Wait, Donald Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee?
Hillary Clinton is the Democrat nominee. Wait, Hillary hasn’t sewn up the nomination just yet? Socialist-light candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is still winning states and collecting delegates?
As a colleague of mine recently told me, “This s**t would be funny if it weren’t happening to my country.”
Alas, such is the state of the nation, a sort of modern-day Hobson’s choice to select the next leader of the free world. For the record, I will not be voting for either candidate, but that doesn’t mean I can ignore the current state of affairs.
Up until now, most of my colleagues in the financial pundit business, as well as most professional investors I know, have largely ignored the presidential primaries. Yet that’s about to change now that it’s a Trump v. Clinton (presumably) contest.
Regardless of whether you’re in love with either of the two candidates, from a market perspective there are some things we can say about the likely upcoming battle.
First, I think it’s safe to assume that the uncertainty surrounding this presidential race will present some stout headwinds for stocks as we move towards the end of summer.
Why? Well, the primary reason is due to the unknowns associated with Mr. Trump.
Because Trump is a wild card to the markets, at least politically speaking, and because he seems to be all over the map on economic issues such as taxes, tariffs, regulations and many other issues, investors are going to have a hard time discerning just what that means for the markets.
My über-smart friend Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, called Trump’s views on taxes, economics and trade, “an incoherent mess,” in a recent Reason article, and I couldn’t agree more.
Conversely, Hillary is a well-known quantity for markets, as her policies will be similar to the Obama administration, and won’t likely represent a shock to system.
Now, I don’t like these policies, as I think they’re antithetical to capitalism, freedom and economic growth. Yet I do know the tired but predictable Clinton playbook, and it’s one that investors already know how to navigate to their advantage.
One thing I’ve been asked a lot recently is who I think would win in a Hillary vs. Donald contest.
As of today, the polls show Clinton with a slight lead, but I am skeptical of polling at this early stage. One thing I’m not skeptical about is the betting markets, as they tend to be much more accurate predictors of political outcomes than traditional polling.
One of my trusted sources for market analysis of all sorts is Tom Essaye, editor of The 7:00’s Report. Tom recently pointed out to me that the betting website Paddy Power, which allows you to wager on such things as the outcome of the U.S. elections, now has Clinton listed as an overwhelming favorite to win in November.
According to Paddy, the odds of Clinton becoming President are 1/3 (bet three, get paid one), while Trump’s odds of winning are basically 3/1 (bet one, get three).
Despite these current odds, my instincts tell me that the country is sick and tired of the status quo. That means the contest in November is going to be crazy, unpredictable and extremely close. Much closer, in fact, than these betting odds suggest.
Given the uncertain conditions of this sort, now is not the time to dive head first into stocks. Conversely, it’s not time to overreact and sell great holdings pell-mell.
What I tell subscribers to my Next Week’s Winners advisory service is that regardless of who’s in the Oval Office, we’re going to be successful because we only buy stocks displaying the strongest earnings growth, the most robust relative price strength, the most bullish technical chart patterns as well as overwhelmingly positive news events capable of driving the shares markedly higher.
This selection criterion works during Democratic administrations, Republican administrations, divided Congresses and super majorities.
So, while this presidential election might bring with it reality-show inspired market headwinds, great companies will still be making money, attracting investment capital and displaying the metrics that make them worth owning.
Finding those companies is the mission of the Next Week’s Winners service, and we will accomplish that mission—regardless of who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.