November 4, 2016, 4:00pm EST
It was a rough week for global markets. Across the markets, there was clear evidence of big investors reducing exposure. The theme was persistently risk-off (which means some money moving out of stocks and into bonds, out of broader commodities and into gold).
Unusually, it had nothing to do with economic data or central banks.
It had everything to with politics.
With the perception that the gap has closed on the presidential race this week, the uncertainty surrounding the outcome has elevated. And that’s being reflected in some skittishness across markets. And all we hear from Wall Streeters is that they don’t like uncertainty, and can’t calibrate properly on the potential outcomes on the presidential race might bring — as if they’ve been operating with such certainty and precision for the past eight years.
The reality: As we’ve seen over and over, throughout the crisis period, the global political environment has been anything but predictable. The economic environment has been anything but predictable.
If we think about all of the events along the way, over the past eight years: we’ve had the near global economic apocalypse, there was Cypress, Greece, the near defaults of Italy and Spain, the debt ceiling sagas, government shutdowns, Russia/Ukraine, threats from North Korea, the Ebola scare, an oil price crash, Brexit, and more.
Each has brought a potential shock to a global environment that was already on very shaky and uncertain footing, within which some semblance of stability and recovery was only present because it was being manufactured and managed carefully by the world’s biggest central banks.
With that, little, if any, credit can be given to the current President for the economic recovery. And it’s unlikely that the next Presidency will move the needle much either, unless it can come with a supportive Congress, to approve big and bold fiscal stimulus.
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