Will Your 401(K) Sink or Soar with a President Biden?

Will Your 401(K) Sink or Soar with a President Biden?

“Here’s what you need to know,” says a recent article in MarketWatch: “Of all the reasons to vote for Donald Trump or Joe Biden for president this November, one of the worst is what you think their election will mean for your stock portfolio and your  401(k).”

The article emphasizes that nobody can predict the effect either candidate will have on the stock market, and anyone who says otherwise is “talking out of their hat.”

Noting how in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis Wall Street was “so alarmed by the prospect of Barack Obama becoming president that for a period of time there was about an 80% correlation between the polls and the S&P 500,” such that whenever Republican John McCain got a bump, stocks went up. Yet, the Dow ended up nearly doubling during the eight years of the Obama presidency. Still, the  article notes, that doesn’t imply that one party is better for stocks than another: “Anyone who therefore concludes that Democrats are better for stocks than Republicans is talking nonsense,” the article argues, adding, “This is pure ‘data mining,’ also known as cherry picking—or trying to extrapolate universal truths from a few data points.”

Nor should investors attempt to extrapolate from the economy to the market, the article contends, adding that the election of either Trump or Biden might mean nothing for your portfolio, since “high economic growth doesn’t mean high stock market returns, or vice versa.” But valuations do matter, it says, noting that today’s stock prices are high by historical measures. “That may matter more for the next four years than whoever wins.”

The article concludes by encouraging investors to keep an eye out for overreactions: “If the election creates a panic or a stampede in one direction or another, look for opportunities. Don’t be afraid to go against the crowd—especially when the crowd thinks it knows what it’s talking about but doesn’t.”