Occasionally opening my missives with song titles has been fun! Not everyone connects with the song, but the titles or lyrics usually offer some insight into the “what’s up.”
On November 11, 2000 the number one song on Billboard was “With Arms Wide Open” by Creed. You might be wondering why I’d hunt for a tune from November of 2000, but this was the date(s) of a highly contested election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. As we head into the elections of 2020 I think it’s safe to say the at least half the country will not be welcoming the presidential “winner” with arms wide open. A primary concern for many is that the presidential “loser” might also be unhappy with the result and how it was determined.
So, we have a few things to consider:
1. How will markets behave if the election is contested?
2. What planning changes, if any, should we consider for the end of 2020?
3. What policy upheaval can we expect in the future? Who’s going to pay these bills?
Today, we will address number one. The first debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden airs tonight. They should have considered offering it on pay-per-view similar to a UFC fight, in my opinion. Those millions could have gone directly to COVID relief or to offset 2020’s fiscal budget deficit. But, this is America and anyone with a TV or phone gets to tune in!
Because of this strange year we have seen little interaction between the two candidates. Unless one has been on the hunt for policy initiatives and proposed fiscal plans, it’s not been easy to determine where the candidate’s stand on the issues. We will find out more tonight and many will likely further cement their opinion and voting strategy.
Earlier in the year, before the pandemic, I was researching the concerns about a contested election this year. Every report likes to contrast this year’s potential fight over mail in ballots, etc. to the year 2000 Florida fight between the Bush and Gore campaigns. A few things to keep in mind that I don’t think are likely to reoccur this year:
“First, It was the only election in over a century to come down to just one state. Second, within that state, according to the eventual tally, George W. Bush beat Al Gore by 537 votes out of almost 6 million cast – a margin of 48.85% to 48.84%.”– David Kelly, JPMorgan
Getting all the votes counted, making sure all votes are legitimate and delivering a verdict on election day will be a challenge. The opinions are as scattered as the potential outcomes so let’s plan for some dissension and then be relieved if it doesn’t come to fruition. Our defensive posture is still relevant and makes dollar safe havens like a gold something to consider, in my opinion.
My friend and Chief Investment Officer at Winthrop, Greg Hahn shared with me that “social unrest and economic stress go hand-in-hand. Historically, a country experiences social unrest when it is heading into or already in a contraction.” He also opined that “one of the key tenets of our democracy is the peaceful transition of power between administrations. I believe there are men and women that will risk life and personal injury to ensure that a peaceful transition still happens this year.”
We will follow up with planning changes for year-end/elections and how policy might change in the future because of the spending patterns of our federal government.
So, I’m finishing this up the morning after the first presidential debate. I made it through most of it, but Lisa put on her headphones after around 45 minutes. Ironically (or not) she slept a lot better than me last night… ugh!
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