Voting is about your principles, not your portfolios

Tuesday is election day, and while you may favor a particular political party, the markets (and more important, your investment portfolios) generally only favor one thing -- investor patience.

As citizens and taxpayers, elections are important to us because they determine the principles we want to uphold and the type of country we want. Regardless of which side of the aisle you're on, it's important as a citizen to make your voice heard. However, as investors, it’s vital we don’t let politics distract us from achieving our long-term financial goals.

Election results won’t make or break your investment strategy

Government policy can certainly have an impact on economic growth, and can affect specific stocks, bonds, and sectors. However, for most long-term investors, it makes more sense to focus on economic and market fundamentals, such as inflation, job growth, and monetary policy, than day-to-day poll or election-day results. There are two important reasons for this.

  • First, it's the economic cycle that matters for investment returns, and this has more to do with factors that drive growth than with who is in office. Market conditions are largely driven by economic, industry, and technological performance and trends, not politics.

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Second, the impact of economic policy is difficult to evaluate and often works with a lag. For instance, while corporate tax cuts may result in a short-term jump in the stock market, the true economic benefits (if any) will play out over years and decades. While there are policies that can promote economic growth, the record shows that it's incredibly difficult to predict the economic impact of any particular proposal.

Don’t let news of the election affect your portfolio

The chart below shows the performance of the stock market in election and non-election years. The slight differences between the two are likely due to the timing of a couple of bear markets (markets in which stock prices are falling) – namely, the tech bubble from 2000 to 2002, and the financial crisis of 2008. These down periods were caused by the underlying fundamentals of the market as a whole, and even though they landed on election years, it is not likely that the election had much to do these major market events. In actuality, these events stemmed from more systemic economic issues.

Average stock market performance during election and non-election years, 1933 - 2017

Source: Clearnomics, Standard & Poor's

If we exclude election years, the chart displays how elections don’t often have a dramatic effect on performance. Even the small differences in election year performance vs. non-election year performance can probably be attributed more to investor behavior than the election itself. Investors should not allow election headlines to unduly affect decisions they make about their portfolios, as many times the headlines pass and the market cycle continues on.


Maintain a balanced portfolio regardless of political views



Today, the economic cycle is probably approaching its peak. We're almost in the tenth year of the current business cycle, unemployment is near 50-year lows, and interest rates are creeping up.

It's essential as investors to maintain a balanced portfolio in this environment, despite your political views. Regardless of who is voted into political office during elections, patient investing is a smart way to manage your investments over the long haul.