4 Ways that the Presidential Election Will Affect Your Portfolio

4 Ways that the Presidential Election Will Affect Your Portfolio
By Anthony Jerdine| November  8, 2016 — 06:41 AM EST

The 2016 U.S. presidential election will impact your portfolio in at least four ways. Review these catalysts and take action now to reduce or avoid losses that can be predicted through current campaign rhetoric. It’s also a good time to add exposure to securities and sectors that may benefit from policy changes that occur after this quadrennial event.

The election will impact markets before and after the November vote, with the campaign trail exposing individual sectors to buying or selling pressure while the final result produces a longer lasting effect on a smaller group of securities. Price action in both groups should track poll numbers, allowing observant investors to make on-the-fly adjustments to portfolios.
Ironically, Wall Street is unlikely to become a major campaign issue, despite its participation in the 2008 economic collapse. A 7-year bull market and huge fines have impacted the political landscape, with neither party willing to challenge major investment banks, beyond an occasional reference or a slap on the wrist. Expect a cynical response to any rhetoric that promises stringent financial regulations in a new administration.

Health Care
The U.S. presidential election will impact health care stocks, with Republican front runners looking to repeal or limit the Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare. Democratic candidates may add to the negative impact, as we saw in 2015 when frontrunner, Hillary Clinton criticized the high cost of prescriptions, setting off a biotech and pharmaceutical decline that’s continued into 2016.

The U.S. healthcare industry has undergone a dramatic consolidation in recent years, highlighted by the recently approved merger between Anthem (ANTM) and Cigna (CI). Meanwhile, Aetna (AET) has announced it will buy Humana (HUM), in a transaction that’s still awaiting regulatory approval. These mergers will improve profitability, regardless of political activities in coming years, suggesting that selloffs generated by tough talk on Obamacare should be viewed as buying opportunities.

Energy Industry
Barrack Obama’s election underpinned alternative energy sources while placing a target on the backs of the coal and other fossil fuel industries. Republicans will seek to ease the Clean Air Act and other environmental restrictions, breathing life back into these groups. Solar may have sidestepped campaign partisanship with a late 2015 agreement to continue subsidies past a 2017 expiration date but expect the group to get sold if Republicans take back the White House.

Collapsing crude oil prices will have an indirect impact on the campaign trail because both candidates understand that lower pump prices put money back into the hands of consumers. However, energy companies traditionally back Republican candidates, seeking to reduce regulations that limit profitability, and it’s expected they’ll be active contributors in the 2016 race.

The industry has been badly hurt by falling prices and will seek accommodation to underpin energy markets. The lifting of the crude oil export ban completed a major agenda item, but its political and economic importance has dropped significantly because WTI crude on this side of the Atlantic is now priced identically to Brent crude on the other side, making exports unlikely, especially during a record supply glut.

Defense Stocks
The November 2015 Paris attacks highlight the global impact of terrorist organizations and current geopolitical concerns. “Boots on the ground” has become a notable theme heading into the 2016 campaign season, raising odds the USA will intervene to a greater degree in Middle East military operations in coming years.

Defense stocks took off in strong rallies after Paris and continued to lead the market in early 2016. Polls that favor Republican candidates should underpin this rally, but it’s likely that Democrats will also talk tough on war and defense, given the threat of ISIS, China’s South China Sea ambitions and the always unpredictable North Korea.

Market Cycles
In addition to broad themes in line with Democratic and Republican policy formation, economic cycles also tend to peak heading into or during an election year, often posting significant tops or bottoms that set the stage for new bull or bear markets. We saw that happen in 2000 and 2008, with both tops giving way to significant declines.

Historical data also reveals significant market performance variations, depending on which party takes the White House. The DJ Industrial Average performed significantly better between 1900 and 2012 and better under Democratic administrations than Republican administrations. The average monthly return under Democrats during this period was 0.73% versus 0.38% for Republicans. Also, Democrats posted an average yearly return of 15.31% vs. 5.47% for the GOP.

The Bottom Line
Review portfolios in early 2016, looking to mitigate losses due to the presidential election. Also, take the time to add new exposures that could benefit, depending on the outcome. Healthcare, pharmaceutical, energy and defense stocks could be impacted during the year, as campaign statements translate into buying and selling pressure. Health care and defense should exit the presidential election year as winners, regardless of which side takes the White House.

 

GOP GOP HQ Hotel in Cleveland

GOP HQ Hotel in Cleveland: A State-Owned Enterprise
By Anthony Jerdine

When Republicans gather in Cleveland to formally nominate Donald Trump for president in July, their headquarters will be a brand new hotel whose very existence contradicts party orthodoxy on private enterprise, less government and lower taxes.
Were the Hilton Cleveland Downtown located in in Havana, or in Moscow during the Soviet era, Republicans in a diplomatic mode would call it “state-owned.” Those favoring Trump’s aggressively plain English would call it a communist hotel.
That’s because Cuyahoga County taxpayers own the hotel—not that they had any say in the matter.
The Cuyahoga County Commissars – er, sorry, Commissioners – forced taxpayers three years ago to pay for the $276 million hotel, which is scheduled to open June 1 and connects directly to the Cleveland Convention Center, where the party will nominate its presidential standard bearer.
The taxpayers own everything in the hotel, including the signs that say “Hilton.”

How did this come to pass? The county spent years trying to attract private investors to take on this project. After none did, it forced taxpayers into underwriting it. The hotel got built through a convoluted series of transactions involving the city, the county and others so the land would be tax-exempt. The city and county will collect no property taxes, but the schools will be made whole, said Jeffrey Appelbaum, the lawyer on the project and a construction expert.
The hotel is being paid for with an increase in the county sales tax that is expected to raise $20 million per year for 20 years. In addition, the county added a 1 percent excise tax on hotel rooms. The excise tax from the Hilton will be cycled back to cover the bond payments, meaning guests will be hit for a small part of the cost.
Appelbaum said the hotel was built for much less than a private developer would have spent, which appears to be true. Still, that efficiency is hardly an argument Republicans would buy into just as they reject national single-payer healthcare even though it would be much cheaper than our disorganized nonsystem system of sick care, and it would remove a huge burden from small business owners.
Republicans also wouldn’t be crazy about the origins of a lot of the hotel inventory, which runs directly counter to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, under which he assumes a president posses dictatorial powers. Trump says if elected he will order companies like Carrier, Ford and Nabisco to build factories only in America and slap punitive tariffs on foreign-made goods, powers not granted the president under the Constitution.
The flatware and furniture offend the Trump creed. While extolling the private enterprise system after dinner, Republican delegates will put Spada brand cake forks into their desserts. The 5,400 forks, made in Indonesia, cost local taxpayers $10,314, or $1.91 each. The hotel could have bought flatware from the only American maker, Liberty Tabletop in suburban Syracuse, N.Y.
The top-floor bar, with views of Lake Erie, features sofas, bar stools and other furniture from Astoria Imports, a Florida firm that has factories and warehouses in Mexico and Asia, as well as some domestic operations.
Trump may be more comfortable with the sourcing of the banquet napkins, table clothes and table skirts, which cost Cleveland taxpayers $92,526.48. They came from a division of Mount Vernon Mills, which made clothing for the Confederate Army, though the company says its work for the 19th Century traitors was performed “under protest.” It also notes that the mill owner concealed this work for the Confederacy from Union General William T. Sherman, who decided against burning it to the ground after an evening of hospitality from the owners.
But it’s how the hotel came to exist in the first place that should offend Republicans. It required more government, not less. And what if the hotel does not generate enough revenue to pay the bondholders? On the surface the bonds are called revenue bonds, not general obligations of Cuyahoga County. But that’s a clever deceit. If revenue falls short the county must appropriate money to make up the difference, even if that means raising taxes, to ensure that the bondholders get fully paid.
Local boosters soon made a promise of “300,000 visitors and $330 million in spending” if they could just get a taxpayer owned convention center for medical conferences and a hotel, as reported by Roldo Bartimole, an 83-year-old self-employed journalist who has offered independent and critical assessment of Cleveland area government for a half century.
Bartimole said the whole idea was just another way to pick the pockets of taxpayers for the benefit of the local oligarchs. He also railed against a tax increase to subsidize, forever, the Cleveland Browns football team, Cavaliers basketball team and the Indians baseball team, two of which are owned by out-of-town billionaires.
To justify making taxpayers build a hotel a local group ordered up a study from PKF Consulting in Philadelphia. With lots of lots of tables and charts showing that the hotel would not just succeed, it would rent out so many rooms at rising prices that over the next five years it should expect that 17 cents out of every dollar of revenue would become net profit. This being a government-owned hotel technically it’s a net surplus, but the idea remains the same.
Experience suggests this was a paid-for fantasy report. Around the country there are now at least 33 taxpayer owned hotels. Like communism in practice they have not done well. The one in St Louis was an utter failure, sold off for about 32-cents on the dollar.
Other big convention hotels, both those owned outright by taxpayers and those with heavily subsidized private owners, have “a checkered past,” said Heywood T. Sanders, a University of Texas-San Antonio professor and author of the book Convention Center Follies.
He notes that the trend toward taxpayer subsidized hotels traces back to the late 1970s with Urban Development Block Grants or UDAGs. “We say the H in UDAG is for hotel, but it’s a silent H,” Sanders joked.
From 1978 to 1989 a quarter of all UDAG money went for hotel projects, in all 60,000 rooms added at 236 hotels that were new or renovated, political scientist Richard D Bingham wrote in his 1998 book Industrial Policy American Style.
The new trend is toward not subsidizing hotels, but having taxpayers own them. A study in December, published in the journal Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, concluded from analyzing 21 of these hotels that they are bad for private enterprise.
Proponents claim taxpayer-owned hotels will increase business and thus benefit existing hotels. But the study found that taxpayer owned hotels “tend to erode the key performance metrics of competitive hotels in the market.”
So just remember the next time you are told that Republicans are the party of free enterprise, less government and lower taxes that they chose as their national party convention headquarters what they would call a communist hotel built here in America.
About the author: Pulitzer Prize winner and recipient of an IRE medal and the George Polk Award, David Cay Johnston is author of five books and the upcoming The Prosperity Tax: A New Federal Tax Code for the 21st Century Economy. He is a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at Syracuse University College of Law and Whitman School of Management, and also writes for The Daily Beast and Tax Notes.

 

Brokered Convention

Brokered Convention: What Would It Mean for Republicans?
By Anthony Jerdine| Updated March 28, 2016

As former Right to Rise Super PAC chief Mike Murphy told the Weekly Standard after Jeb Bush dropped out of the race, things were different before there were political primaries. “You’d just pack a quart of liquor, a revolver, and go to the convention.” Those days are gone, but on the Republican side at least, they may be about to make a comeback.

As of Thursday, March 24, real estate mogul Donald Trump leads the much-thinned-out Republican pack with 739 delegates. Texas Senator Ted Cruz trails him by a significant margin, with 465, while Ohio Governor John Kasich has 143 (Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who dropped out earlier this month, has 166).

If the nomination simply went to the candidate with the largest tally, Trump’s task would be simple. But the Republican National Convention requires its nominee to win the majority of the party’s 2,472 delegates. The magic number, in other words, is 1,237. If no candidate hits that threshold in the convention’s first ballot, the party holds a dreaded “brokered” convention, leaving the door open for a candidate without an unassailable mandate to win the nomination.

What are the Odds?
Kasich, who won the state he governs outright and has picked up delegates here and there in states that award them proportionally, seems determined to stay in the race, despite his failure to pick up any delegates in Tuesday’s contests in Arizona, Utah and American Samoa. Assuming the three-man race continues, things could go awry for Trump in large states that award delegates proportionally – such as California on June 7 – and he could find himself short of the magic number come July 18.

Then what happens? Depending on the size of his shortfall, Trump could still become the nominee when the delegates cast their first ballot in Cleveland, since over 100 unbound and uncommitted delegates’ votes will be up for grabs. In Pennsylvania, for example, the primary is mostly cosmetic, and 54 of the state’s 71 delegates vote as they please. Then there are the 181 delegates that were awarded to candidates who have since dropped out: these are reassigned according to a bewildering array of state laws and rules.

What are the odds there’s still no nominee after the first ballot is cast? According to Paddy Power, the safer bet is that the first round yields a nominee, with odds of 1/3 (implied probability of 75%) as of Wednesday, compared to 9/5 for a second round (implied probability of 36%).

Brokered Conventions of Yesteryear
For the sake of argument, say that it does come to a second vote. Then the quarts come out, and the power brokers retreat to their smoke-filled rooms. Since the process was revamped after 1968, Republicans have not had a brokered convention. The last one was in 1952, when Eisenhower clinched the nomination despite trailing Ohio Senator Robert Taft in the initial tally.

From 1860 to 1948, nine Republican conventions came to multiple ballots. In six of those conventions, the eventual winner did not start off with the most delegates. In 1880, James Garfield came to Chicago without a single delegate and left with the nomination. The next year he moved into the White House.

Today’s hypothetical open convention would probably differ from these precedents. For example, describing these conventions as “brokered” evokes the political bosses who ran the show in the old days, but the bosses are mostly a thing of the past. The Party Establishment, as much as it is maligned and blamed for Republicans’ woes, has seen its power wane in recent years, so “open convention” – with its ring of chaos – is probably the better term.

The Rules
If the first ballot does not yield a nominee, most of the delegates would then become “unbound” and free to vote as they pleased in the second ballot. At that point, a sizeable anti-Trump faction within the party would likely attempt to rally support around another candidate. That candidate could be Cruz, Kasich, or someone who did not even appear on the primary ballot.

Gary Emineth, an unbound delegate from North Dakota, speculated to CNBC on March 16, “It could introduce Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, or it could be the other candidates that have already been in the race and are now out of the race [such as] Mike Huckabee [or] Rick Santorum. All those people could eventually become candidates on the floor.”

That possibility remains as long as the RNC does not keep Rule 40b for the 2016 convention, requiring the nominee to win the majority of delegates in at least eight states. If the rule were kept, Trump would probably be the only eligible nominee. An important caveat: the votes in question are not based on results from primary contests, according to RNC Rules Committee member and North Dakota unbound delegate Curley Haugland, but the votes taken by delegates at the start of the convention. Those results are not necessarily one and the same.

What if the second ballot doesn’t yield a nominee? Then they hold a third, a fourth, a fifth and so on. Rule 40e states, “If no candidate shall have received such majority, the chairman of the convention shall direct the roll of the states be called again and shall repeat the calling of the roll until a candidate shall have received a majority of the votes entitled to be cast in the convention.” In 1880 the Republicans held 36 rounds of voting before settling on Garfield, although that’s nothing compared to the 103 the Democrats held in 1924.

The People Speak
Barring total gridlock, the likely result of an open convention situation would be horse-trading among the de facto leaders of various party factions, leading some to question the democratic merits of the process as it’s currently structured. Party representatives have only fed into this line of criticism. Asked on CNBC why the GOP bothers to hold primaries at all if the party, rather than voters, decides the nominee, Haugland answered, “That’s a very good question.”

In the same vein, Diana Orrock, a Nevada delegate and Trump supporter, told CNBC Monday, “People are under the misconception that it’s the results of the caucus and the results of the primary that determines who becomes the nominee. In actuality, it’s the delegates at the national convention that are supposed to pick the nominee.”

Donald Trump has anticipated the possibility that he could lose the nomination, remarking to CNN on March 16, “I think you’d have riots. I think you’d have riots.” Earlier that day, Cruz said something similar about the prospect of a brokered convention: “I think that would be an absolute disaster. I think the people would quite rightly revolt.” (See also: The Changing Demographics and the 2016 Elections.)

The Bottom Line
Since revamping the primary process after 1968, the Republicans have not held a brokered convention. That doesn’t make it impossible, however, and history shows that almost anything can happen once the second – or 36th – ballot is cast, from a comfortable win for the front-runner to a nomination for the zero-delegate also-ran. In other words, Kasich isn’t out of the race yet. Neither, for that matter, is Rubio. Or Romney.