And don’t get these people started on Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Jones said Monday the market would fall 20 percent if Sanders ultimately took up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, while Cohen predicted what Bloomberg called a “more extreme” stock market sell-off in the event of his victory.
It all sounds ghastly, I know. But I am so old I remember when this stuff was said about another candidate for president. His name? Donald Trump.
Bridgewater Associates, the monster hedge fun founded by Ray Dalio, predicted a more than 10 percent drop in the stock market in the event of a Trump victory in 2016. The forecasting outfit Macroeconomic Advisors made a similar claim, pointing to an 8 percent falloff. Economists Eric Zitzewitz and Justin Wolfers published a paper with the Brookings Institution, also claiming the stock market would stumble in the event of a Trump victory. Tony Roth, chief investment officer of Wilmington Trust? A Trump victory would result in “a big sell-off.”
Funny how that worked out. The stock market, after a sharp drop in after-hours trading, surged the day after Trump’s election. It ultimately increased 8 percent between Trump’s victory and the end of that year. Ithas gone up from there, as the big money realized that Trump’s anti-regulatory agenda served its short-term bottom line quite nicely indeed, even as it has made life harder for the rest of us. Why worry about increasing air pollution and shoddy consumer financial protections when there is money to be made? It has all gone so well for Trump, he now claims “a Market Crash the likes of which has not been seen before” should he lose. I doubt it. The stock market has done quite well on days when some of the most damaging information about Trump’s actions in Ukraine have come out, suggesting that Wall Street is hardly worried about a post-Trump world.
All of this is stuff that should remind you that predicting the stock market is a fool’s game, and it’s usually done by someone with an agenda. Most often, of course, that agenda is to sell you on something, usually some dodgy investment or a wannabe guru’s so-called wisdom. The sort of ad from Facebook proclaiming “We’re on the verge of the most dangerous financial crisis our nation has faced in decades,” so you should look to “ONE newsletter [that can] protect yourself, your finances, and your freedoms” is all too typical.
But that agenda can be political, too. And we know the majority of folks on Wall Street — and many who make their living from them — are none too happy about the strength of Warren and Sanders in the polls. There’s no question the pair have big money in their sights. They are both campaigning on implementing a wealth tax and cracking down on private-equity investing, and on ambitious plans to get big money out of politics. All of this is an anathema to most of Wall Street.
It shouldn’t be an anathema, however, to the vast majority of voters, whose interests would be best served by reducing the income and wealth inequality in the United States. Only about half the population has any money in the stock market at all. The wealthiest 1 percent of the population owns half of all household equities, according to research by Goldman Sachs. If there is a hit — and that’s a big if — they’ll take the vast majority of it. No wonder the 1 percenters want to scare you into thinking their economic priorities should be your economic priorities. Think about that the next time you hear a bloviating Wall Streeter complaining about Warren or Sanders.
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