by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Love him or hate him, President Donald Trump has been good for the stock market. The S&P 500 index has returned nearly 50% since his surprise election victory in 2016, and the index’s recent move to a record appears to reflect growing expectations that he will win again in 2020.
Trump had some luck in 2016, and it may be happening again in the wake of the Democratic candidate debates.
“Trump must be smacking his lips” Greg Valliere, the veteran political strategist at AGF Investments , wrote in a commentary this past week. “The Democrats want huge new federal programs, higher taxes, more regulation, federal aid for illegal immigration, and perhaps more damaging, their dystopian view of the country seems wildly exaggerated, as the unemployment rate sits at 3.6%.” (The jobless rate ticked up to 3.7% in June, the Labor Department reported on Friday).
Valliere tells Barron’s: “The markets are starting to embrace the idea that Trump wins reelection. Most of the people in the markets don’t like him personally, but they like his policies.”
Presidential elections normally don’t matter a lot to the markets, with Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett regularly saying that he tunes out politics when making investment decisions.
But the 2020 race could be different if the Democrats nominate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), who would probably rank as the most business-unfriendly candidate of a major party in a century. Warren, noted Dan Clifton, Strategas Reserarch Partners’ Washington chief, is “running against capitalism.” That might be an exaggeration, but she would like to eliminate private health insurers and break up the technology giants, while taking on the energy, drug, and banking industries.