As part of Cohen’s guilty plea, he said Trump coordinated and directed him to pay off two women who had accused the then-presidential candidate of having affairs with them. The payments violated federal campaign law. Cohen specifically said the hush money was part of an effort to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Cohen “admitted to committing two separate crimes that violated federal election law: He caused a corporation to make an unlawful contribution to the Trump campaign and he personally made an excessive contribution to the Trump campaign,” reported The Washington Post’s Michelle Ye Hee Lee.
The revelation by Cohen of Trump’s direct involvement in the payments has heated up discussions about whether the president committed a crime and, if so, whether he should be impeached.
The president sat down for an interview with Ainsley Earhardt, co-host of “Fox & Friends,” and predicted an impeachment would hurt the economy.
“I’ll tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash,” Trump said. “I think everybody would be very poor because without this thinking, you would see numbers that you wouldn’t believe.”
Here’s what some financial experts and financial journalists, who closely follow the market, think.
— “Trump isn’t irreplaceable. I don’t think the market would crash,” Ed Yardeni, president of investment advisory firm Yardeni Research, told CNNMoney’s Matt Egan.
— “The market seems to ignore President Trump's endless controversies and crazy comments,” Ivan Feinseth, chief market strategist of Tigress Financial Intelligence, wrote to clients, Egan reported.
— “The history of the stock market shows the more meaningful events for investors and for market influences over a six-month basis or annual basis are economic fundamentals, such as corporate earnings and changes in Fed policy,” Joseph Davis, Vanguard’s global chief economist, told CNBC Make It.
— “Something like an impeachment probability gets priced in early since it is a long, drawn-out process,” Kent Smetters, Wharton professor of business economics and public policy, told CNBC. “So whether markets like it or not, it won’t likely lead to a sudden change.”
However, there is some history of market turmoil following an impeachment.
“The S&P 500 dropped 14 percent in 1973 and then 26 percent in 1974 as former president Richard Nixon faced the threat of impeachment,” Egan wrote. “But the market turmoil back then wasn’t just about Watergate. The United States stumbled into recession in 1973, oil prices quadrupled during the OPEC oil embargo, and the U.S. dollar slumped. Today’s economy is cruising. The U.S. dollar remains strong, and oil prices remain far off their 2014 peak.”
But then history shows that the markets rocketed when President Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 by the House of Representatives (he was acquitted by the Senate).
“The key would be how much impeachment proceedings dented consumer confidence and derailed business investment,” Egan writes. “The S&P 500 climbed 27 percent in 1998 and then another 20 percent in 1999.”
“Corporate earnings and the economy still appear to carry more weight with investors than President Donald Trump’s mounting legal and political woes, including the threat of impeachment,” wrote William Watts, MarketWatch’s deputy markets editor. “So far, it’s another chapter in the story of a stock market that’s proven resilient in the face of developments surrounding Trump’s legal woes.”
If the markets fall dramatically it won’t be because of Trump, Oliver Jones, economist at Capital Economics, told Watts.
“Our forecast that the S&P 500 will fall sharply by the end of next year is instead rooted in our downbeat assessment of the outlook for the U.S. economy and corporate earnings,” Jones said.
It’s not without reason that investors may panic if Trump is impeached. Investors did push the market up after he was elected.
Still, many experts believe the state of the economy will have more to do with where stocks go than impeachment actions against the president.
“The longest bull market run in American history could get killed off by a financial collapse in Turkey, a policy mistake by the Federal Reserve or a plain old economic recession,” wrote Politico’s chief economic correspondent, Ben White. “That’s the consensus view of Wall Street traders and money managers, who say that while an ugly impeachment fight might cause temporary volatility, markets could easily survive an impeachment and even the unlikely event that Trump is removed from office in a Senate trial. In fact, Wall Street pros often talk about a potential relief rally if Trump departs the White House early.”
White goes on to say, “The underlying economy would remain strong, and a hypothetical President Mike Pence would likely continue Trump’s policy of low taxes and fewer regulations without all the wild tweeting and investigations and persistent trade wars. . . . Markets now move very little on news of fresh legal trouble for Trump. And analysts say that’s in part because the economic and stock market recoveries long predate Trump’s presidency and would probably live on without him.”
[Read more: No, impeachment will not crash the stock market]
But let’s say the markets do drop dramatically, would everyone end up poor as Trump predicts?
Probably not, because not everyone is in invested in the stock market.
“Even if the U.S. stock market did crash, it would not directly affect ‘everybody,’ as Trump contends,” wrote CNBC’s Megan Leonhardt. “In fact, today, investments in the market are heavily concentrated among the richest U.S. families. Prior to the 2007 recession, the top 10 percent of U.S. households owned 81 percent of the stock market. Today, they own 84 percent of it.”
If you’re well diversified and investing smartly, you shouldn’t worry about an impeachment. Whatever happens, justice should be served without regard to the stock market.
Are you afraid a Trump impeachment might tank the market and your retirement portfolio? Send your comments to email@example.com. Please include your name, city and state. Put “Impeachment” in the subject line.
Retirement rants and raves
I’m interested in your experiences or concerns about retirement or aging. What do you like about retirement? What came as a surprise?
If you haven’t retired yet, what concerns you financially?
You can rant or rave. This space is yours. It’s a chance for you to express what’s on your mind. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line, put “Retirement Rants and Raves.”
A lot of readers have emailed asking what I thought of the news that Aretha Franklin didn’t have a will.
I was saddened that she left an estate mess for her family.
Last week I asked: Have you had an experience where a relative didn’t have a will? Was there drama?
“I am a retired pastor and all for folks having a will,” wrote Bob Chell of Sioux Falls, S.D. “Having said that, if people are going to squabble you can’t stop them, and if they aren’t going to squabble you can’t force them to. It may be about the money to some extent but when folks are arguing over a plate it’s really about who mom or dad loved more, who felt left out or mistreated.”
I’ve frequently addressed the issues between siblings when an estate is not divided equally.
Susan West of Friday Harbor, Wash., wrote, “I’ve looked over the intestate laws of my state, and they comport perfectly with my own wishes. What reasons would prompt me to make a will in this case?"
Yes, you should still have a will.
“Dying intestate also triggers a little-known hassle in the form of an administrative bond,” according to Bankrate.com. “When someone dies without appointing an executor, the court appoints an administrator to disburse all property that wasn’t jointly owned with a survivor. The administrator must post a bond to ensure that he doesn’t loot the estate and vanish. The cost of that bond, usually about $100 per year for every $100,000 in the estate, is paid by the estate’s assets.”
From Bankrate.com read:
There are other issues that may come up that necessitate having a will. For example, in preparing a will you would also prepare a “living will,” also called an advance directive, which provides instructions about the medical care you want if you become incapacitated.
One reader wanted to know about the difference between getting a simple will and trust. Here’s some information that may help you understand how they both work.
[Read more: The Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust vs. a Will]
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