What Happens to the Stock Market in Election Years

In case you hadn’t heard, 2020 is a big election year. In fact, it is maybe one of the most polarized and heated presidential elections in quite some time.  And we don’t even know who’s running yet. It will likely have an impact on the investment world too. What happens to the stock market in election years?

We’ll take a look back at election years since 1948 and see if that offers any insight into what we could expect in 2020.

Watch: What Happens to the Stock Market in Election Years?

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History doesn’t always repeat itself, but it often rhymes. You can look at certain historical trends and form some fairly realistic expectations. For example, a year ago we looked at what happens the year after a down year in stocks.  In this case, the trend proved to be a solid guide for this year.

2020 is an election year. We thought it would be interesting to look at all the election years after World War II. What happens to the stock market in election years? We found a couple of interesting trends.

Trend 1: Incumbents Are Tough to Beat

The first one has nothing to do with stocks and investing. There have been 18 presidential elections since the end of World War II. It started with Truman’s win over Thomas Dewey in 1948. Ten of those elections featured an incumbent president running against a challenger. In seven of those 10, the incumbent won.

The losers:

  • Gerald Ford lost to Jimmy Carter in 1976.
  • Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan in 1980, and
  • George H. W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton in 1992.

Trend 2: Stocks Have Done Well in Presidential Election Years

What did the stock market do in all those election years?

  • The stock market posted gains in 16 of those 18 years. 
  • It also saw declines in two of those years.
  • The best election year was 1980 when the S&P 500 improved by more than 32%. And this includes the return from dividends. 
  • 11 of the 16 positive years, the stock market posted double-digit gains.
  • In 2008, the stock market was down 37%.  It was the worst return in an election year.
  • The other negative year was in 2000. That year the stock market decreased 9.1%
  • On average, the compounded annual return for these 18 election years is 8.8%
Click to Enlarge the Chart.

Forming Expectations

What does this mean for 2020? History tells us we should expect a positive year.  In addition, we currently have low unemployment, projected earnings growth, and a growing economy.  All of which would support the expectation for a positive year.

But things don’t always follow historical trends and the supporting data can change without notice.  The added drama of politics will make things a bit more turbulent and interesting in 2020. 

What's On Your Mind?

Do you have a question about what’s happening in the world of finance or investing?  Is there a topic that has you curious?  We’d love to hear from  you.

 We’ll do our best to answer it in a future episode.  To submit your question, fill out the form.  If you prefer, you can send us an email directly.  That email address is neal@flemingwatson.com

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Financial Planning

About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors  He typically works with people who are planning for retirement.  Fleming Watson is a Registered Investment Advisory firm located in Marietta Ohio.  Our firm primarily serves Marietta, Parkersburg, Williamstown, St. Marys, Belpre, Vienna and the surrounding communities in Washington and Noble Counties in Ohio and Wood and Pleasants county in West Virginia.

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Were The Predictions Right?

With two weeks remaining in 2019, we review a couple of blog posts from 2018. Both were looking ahead to what might happen this year.  Were the predictions right?  Let’s take a look.

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After a Down Year for Stocks, What Happens Next?

Since 1950, there have only been 15 years when the S&P 500 finished underwater including 2018.  With the concerns at the time, most people were wondering if we would see another negative year in 2019. 

We went digging into the numbers to see how often the stock market posted back-to-back negative years, to see what we should expect.

The data showed in the 14 previous events, the stock market finished higher the next year 11 times. And not just positive a little bit. The average gain following a down year was over 17%

Were The Predictions Right

Was the Prediction Right?

It looks like we will be able to say the next year was positive 12 out of 15—barring a major meltdown in the next couple of weeks.  It also looks like the average gain the year after the down year will go up as well.

The Wall Street Crystal Ball

We also looked at how well the big investment firms could predict the future. In fact we even bought our own crystal ball to see if we could get in on the act. 

We showed 12 predictions from the some of the biggest names on Wall Street.  All 12 predicted gains for the stock market.  Here are some of the highlights.

  • The most pessimistic prediction for stocks was a 3% gain.
  • 5 of the 12 predicted single digit returns for the S&P 500, while 7 forecasted double digit gains.
  • 3 of these firms predicted returns of 20% or more.
  • The average guess for all 12 was a positive return of 14%.
  • And the most optimistic prediction was for a 26% gain.
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Were the Predictions Right?

With just two weeks to go, The S&P 500 is up well over 26% for the year. At least crystal balls at a handful of these firms were close.  That’s a pretty big improvement over 2018’s predictions.

What's On Your Mind?

Do you have a question about what’s happening in the world of finance or investing?  Is there a topic that has you curious?  We’d love to hear from  you.

 We’ll do our best to answer it in a future episode.  To submit your question, fill out the form.  If you prefer, you can send us an email directly.  That email address is neal@flemingwatson.com

Enter Your Question Here

Financial Planning

About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors  He typically works with people who are planning for retirement.  Fleming Watson is a Registered Investment Advisory firm located in Marietta Ohio.  Our firm primarily serves Marietta, Parkersburg, Williamstown, St. Marys, Belpre, Vienna and the surrounding communities in Washington and Noble Counties in Ohio and Wood and Pleasants county in West Virginia.

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Stocks Climb A Wall of Worry

Stocks climb a wall of worry.

What does this mean? 

Today, we talk about:

  • The news always seems bad
  • Recessions, trade wars and now impeachment dominate the headlines.
  • But the stock market? What has it done.

We’ll talk about it on this episode of Monday Morning Money.

Watch: Stocks Climb A Wall Of Worry

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You can also watch this on our YouTube Channel.

We would love to answer your question on a future episode

Do you have a question about money or personal finance? Submit your question using the form below or send an email to neal@flemingwatson.com

Stocks climb a wall of worry.

What does this mean? Think about all the stuff which has circulated in the headlines over the past year.

A Looming Recession

We continue to deal with the threat of a recession. A major economic slow down can lead to higher unemployment. It can also impact businesses big and small. In some cases, a recession can mean a bear market.

The talk of a recession tends to darken the mood though, and people’s attitudes tend to sour on things like stocks.

Trade Wars

We are still in the midst of a trade war with China. Something many experts feel could contribute to our economic woes. Both countries are taxing goods imported from the other. This serves to drive prices higher for the consumer.

Officials from both countries continue to talk. Unfortunately, nothing has happened, yet.

Impeachment

And now we can add the possibility of impeachment to the list of big things affecting the mindset of the American public. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, it casts a dark cloud over the future.

What the impact will be? Nobody really knows. Since the 1920’s this has only happened twice, with presidents Nixon and Clinton. Nixon’s problems started in late 1972.  The stock market in 1973 and 74 declined nearly 50%.

Clinton’s problems happened in 1997 and 1998.  In both years, the stock market was up over 20%.

So we don’t have a lot of data to help guide us on what to expect.

Wall of Worry
Stocks Climb A Wall

With all the uncertainty, the dismal news cycle, and overwhelming pessimism, what has the stock market done?

Last Monday – the 28th –  the S&P 500 set a new all-time high.

Stocks Climb a Wall of Worry

At that time the popular large-cap index was up over 23% on a total return basis for the year.

Climb a Wall

On the same day, The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed to within less than 1% of it’s all-time high.  

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This is what it means when people say, “Stocks climb a wall of worry.” The doom and gloom surrounds us. In fact, it is hard to imagine there is anything good happening in the world.  But yet, the stock market just quietly marches higher.

Beneath the noise are great businesses. Companies who find ways to improve profits and deliver value to their shareholders. And sometimes it leads to a pleasant surprise waiting for us when the dust settles.

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Financial Planning

About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors  He typically works with people who are planning for retirement.  Fleming Watson is a Registered Investment Advisory firm located in Marietta Ohio.  Our firm primarily serves Marietta, Parkersburg, Williamstown, St. Marys, Belpre, Vienna and the surrounding communities in Washington and Noble Counties in Ohio and Wood and Pleasants county in West Virginia.

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