Investment And Economic Outlook Post President Obama Victory

Now that President Obama has won, I’d like for us to have a mature discussion on the investment and economic outlook for the next four years. Let’s also touch upon how we should act in public now that big government is here to stay.

In order to create wealth, we must make reasonable assumptions about the future and invest accordingly. It’s important to remove our biases from the equation given we often see what we want to see and ignore everything else. We shouldn’t harp on the fact that over $2 billion dollars of campaign spending went into this election, which could have gone to help people in need.

If you are a raging right wing Republican, sorry, but your guy lost. Get over it. I got over the fact I stopped growing in the 9th grade. Your hope for smaller government, less taxes, less red tape, less welfare, less marriage equality, and a supposed balanced budget isn’t likely going to happen!

Remember to keep an open mind because creating wealth is the name of the game. Don’t let your stubbornness blind you. Let us begin.

ECONOMIC OUTLOOK

The economy will continue to improve, regardless of Obama or Mitt in the White House. The unemployment rate is inching down, earnings growth is healthy although decelerating, inflation is low, interest rates are low, and companies have the most cash ever on their balance sheets.

We’ve also got the Federal Reserve acting as Obama’s puppet to pump as much money into the system to the delight of debtors, and to the dismay of savers. The Federal Reserve is a backstop that guarantees any downturn will be short-lived. Now do you realize why Republicans have been so vehemently against the Fed? Economic recovery is the number one reason why Obama got re-elected.

CPI (inflation) will remain around 2% for the next four years given the output gap in the economy. The 10-year yield will also remain below 2.5% during this time period. As a result, everybody with debt should seek to lower their interest obligations. Call your credit card companies, mortgage loan officers, and loan sharks with big bats. Look into peer-to-peer lending to consolidate into a lower rate. Those without debt should consider following the government’s lead and take on debt given how cheap money is. Unlike the government, you don’t have a printing press and will eventually have to pay your loan back, so don’t go too crazy!

GDP growth will hover between 2.5%-3.5%, which isn’t that great, but at least it’s faster than inflation and better than a contraction. China’s GDP will likely continue to grow at a 7-8% clip, eventually outpacing US production. Their problem is a demographic cliff in 2016 given their one child policy. Learn some Mandarin. It’s good for you.

INVESTMENT OUTLOOK

If Mitt Romney had won, the stock market would have probably jumped 5-10% within a week of announcement given his victory would have been a surprise to many. Mitt’s reputation is business friendly and Wall Street loves the Republican party. The problem with being business friendly is that it is often employee unfriendly. A lot of people get fired during “right-sizing.” After a week or so of jubilation, the market would probably consolidate and normalize with earnings and other market forces.

Obama provides status quo. Under his Presidency, the S&P500 is up over 55% and the NASDAQ is up over 100%. In many ways, his continued presence is good for the stock market because at least companies can plan for the devil they know. It’s during uncertainty when innovation, capital expenditure, and hiring grinds to a halt.

Under Obama, it was commonly thought that financial stocks would suffer, alternative-energy shares would prosper, agricultural plays would rally on his ethanol support and the health care sector would be depressed by universal-medical-coverage proposals. In fact, everything happened in reverse over the past four years! This makes me more bullish that it’s now time to sell financials, buy alternative energy, and sell healthcare stocks at the margin. Homebuilding stocks continue to look attractive under an Obama regime as Democrats try and prevent more foreclosures, leading to less supply on the market.

Over the past 14 presidential races, the stock market rallied on the Wednesday following Election Day six times and declined eight. In those six years when the market responded to the upside, stocks continued higher for the subsequent week every time, according to a study by SentimentTrader.com. The other eight years, the market’s negative response persisted over the following week six times. In other words, the slight bias is towards the downside by 57/43.

Corporate profits are decelerating, while QE3 has already been announced. These are two main reasons why I took 80% off the table in September. Locking in a 16% return in an environment where I knew Obama would win presented itself with a classic sell on news situation. I’ll be shocked if the S&P500 climbs more than 10% over the next 12 months. Everyone should expect a whole lot of nothing because the Republicans will control the House and the Democrats will control the Senate. If things get rancorous enough, the markets will have a painful sell-off as we approach a “fiscal cliff.”

INDIVIDUAL OUTLOOK

It’s important not to stand out in an Obama world. The government’s hammer will pound you flat if protestors don’t get to you first. Instead, you need to blend into the middle class and become as unassuming as possible. This means not showing off your new house, driving an old car, and downgrading your wardrobe. Have a biscuit while you’re at it.

The Obama administration also allows you to take more risks with your life if you are getting tired of your job and want to quit. Of course you are going to follow my advice and negotiate a severance package before quitting. Afterward, the government will help subsidize your expenses for at least a year as you explore new careers or business ideas. There’s no way the government can just cut off millions of people cold turkey in 2013.

With universal healthcare now law, individuals should breathe easier knowing they won’t go bankrupt due to some unforeseen illness. Even smokers can breathe easier! Staying fit should always be a priority, however, if you want to workout less and eat more goodies, you’re safer now. I’m coming for you In N’ Out Burger!! There are plenty of winners in Obamacare, and I plan to be one of them.

If you happen to be a homeowner in a higher income tax bracket, expect a strong push for your taxes to go up further. Expect people to vote on goodies that benefit themselves paid for by your property taxes. As a result, you need to hide as much of your income as possible from the government in a legal way of course. You’ve also got to be vigilant in raising rents aggressively to share the burden if you are a landlord.

It’s probably best to accept the fact that we are all becoming the same. The rewards of outperforming your peers is becoming less and less. You may want to consider doing the minimum until there is a higher correlation with reward and effort. Socialism can really mean a brighter future if you embrace its good points. My business trip to visit the happiest people on Earth showed how wonderful life can be when everybody is the same. Let us leave no brother or sister behind as we march forward!

ONE MAN DOESN’T MAKE A DIFFERENCE

The most important thing you can do is focus on what YOU can control. Continue maxing out your 401K, building multiple income streams, furthering your education, working hard at your job, and coming up with new ideas. Although it’s tempting to start depending more on the government now that Obama is in power for four more years, try to use the government as a last resort. When you have a nice safety net, you should feel more confident to go for things!

For those of you who bet me Mitt was going to win, I guess I just got lucky. Please send all payments to my Paypal address this week so I can proceed to donate the amounts to various local charities like the Omega Boys Club in Oakland, whose purpose is to keep our kids in our classrooms and off the streets. I’ll also use some of the proceeds for the Yakezie Writing Contest, the Network’s charitable initiative to help deserving students pay for college.

May we all gain much wealth and prosperity over the next four years!

Recommended Actions For Increasing Your Wealth

Manage Your Finances In One Place: Get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts in one place so you can see where you can optimize. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 28 different accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, etc) to manage my finances. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing, how my net worth is progressing, and whether my spending is inline with my budget. If you are interested, they can even provide tailored financial advice for much cheaper than traditional wealth managers. There is no better free online tool I’ve found that has helped me manage my wealth. It only takes a minute to sign up.

About the Author: Sam began investing his own money ever since he first opened a Charles Schwab brokerage account online in 1995. Sam loved investing so much that he decided to make a career out of investing by spending the next 13 years after college on Wall Street. During this time, Sam received his MBA from UC Berkeley with a focus on finance and real estate. He also became Series 7 and Series 63 registered. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 35 largely due to his investments that now generate over six figures a year in passive income. Sam now spends his time playing tennis, spending time with family, and writing online to help others achieve financial freedom.

Thanks,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    I’m not that surprised at the election results as I had a feeling Obama was going to win for a while. I think you’re right that the economy is going to continue recovering regardless of who’s in office for the next four years too. I need to start paying more attention to Obamacare as I haven’t followed it much. And I think you make an interesting point about big government and things becoming more socialist!

  2. says

    I think in big situations like politics and economy, it is always better to focus on what you, as an individual, can control. Oftentimes, people blame the economy on the government, forgetting one crucial detail, we are all part of this government, so no matter who wins, we have to do our end, even if it means just focusing on our own growth, which in the long run will help the country.

  3. says

    Prediction games are fun, even though I owe Heifer International a donation now. I’ll (foolishly?!) make my own predictions that basically outline my portfolio.

    On health care, vertical integration and scale will be the big themes. PSNs will be gobbled up like and your neighborhood doctor is going corporate. Health care insurance is always a great value play and that won’t change; I like it.

    Autos are going to be the biggest winner of the cyclicals IMO. They’re the most levered to employment growth, cars are the oldest ever on record (easy tailwind), and people are going to look at MPG ratings and buy a nicer trim car when they go shopping because Americans love spending money before it’s in their pocket. Not a fan of homebuilders or alt energy as it’s just not my thing, but I think commercial real estate stays weak due to sustained failures in small and large retail stores and growth in telecommuting. Private equity-style CEFs are the best of the financials – junk bond wave!

    I keep saying this (and I’m still patiently waiting) but I really, really think M&A has to come back big on a broad scale. We’re in the “new normal” period of 2% GDP growth. Relatively bullish.

  4. says

    Wish I could pick up some mandarin skills :0) but sometimes I’m convinced it’s one of the hardest languages to learn :P. Maybe the next four years would be a good time to invest in the fast food / pharma industry. With less financial incentive to stay healthy because of publicly funded health care to pay for medical bills, it’s that much easier to let yourself go from time to time. Of course I have to assume that most people are smart enough to realize that good health is paramount to a happy lifestyle, but I still expect some nice earnings from McDonald’s North American division in the next several years ;)

    As for the economy, I think modest growth (2%-3% GDP), monetary stimulus, and low interest rates will continue to be the norm for the foreseeable future, and I’m investing in hard assets like commodities and real estate to protect myself from any inflationary pressure down the road. One thing I’m looking forward to is businesses hiring more workers because they now have a better idea of what kind of policies to expect :D I’m going to say at least 200K new jobs per month on average, over the next 12 months.

    • says

      McDonald’s! Too bad they missed the quarter, but perhaps that is now the opportunity to invest!

      Zhong wen bu tai nan! Ni zhi yao mei tian lian xi liang ge xiao shi, ni jiu hui jiang de hen liu li!

  5. says

    I called this win about two months ago…..and I’m glad that it happened. Your two points that stood out for me are to continue doing your thing, because after all you’re in control of yourself and your day-to-day surroundings. I think far too many people get lost in the “political bs” and forget to focus on the everyday things such as saving for retirement, earning more, eliminating debt and continuing to live a modest life.

    Secondly, one person can’t change the economy overnight, and instead it’s a process that takes a collaborative effort from everyone. Economy will continue to recover, there have been great signs (unemployment numbers) of recovery, however it’s all a journey and certainly not an overnight process.

    As a Canadian, and I’m sure I’m speaking for the majority of Canadians when I say this: We’re glad to have Obama back for another 4 years!!

    • says

      I hope you got some folks to be you two months ago as well!

      It’s quite amazing how much MORE positive the entire national community is over Obama than Mitt. Perhaps b/c everybody knows who Obama is already!

  6. David M says

    “and a supposed balanced budget isn’t likely going to happen!” I agree the budget will not be in balance – however, I think the budget deficit will be lower under Obama than it would have been under Roomney.

    Why, Roomney would hav easily gotten his accoss the board tax cut – however, I do not think he would have gotten the cuts to exemptions and deductions that he planned on.

    Great job predicting the Obama victory – I HOPE everyone pays up as I know you certainly would have paid everyone if Roomney had won.

  7. says

    Sam-

    I’ve always admired your optimism. Controlling your individual actions will lead to great success, regardless of what the government looks like. I’m not sure I can eloquently blend my thoughts so I’ll opt for a countdown of sorts:

    1. @David M – I don’t think the budget deficit will be lower under Obama vs. Romney. Romney’s ENTIRE campaign was built on balancing the budget whereas Obama’s is rebuilding the economy (spending). But I suppose it’s pointless to debate “what might have been.”
    2. I think the economy hinges more on Ben Bernanke (or his replacement) than Obama.
    3. I agree with the idea of selling financials. Obviously they’ve rebounded since their lows BUT between Obama, Elizabeth Warren, etc. I see the gov. further limiting where banks make money. Although this is meant to help the consumer, I ultimately think it will only hurt everyone.
    4. I see us repeating the same mistakes we made in the 90’s & 2000’s. I think Obama will emphasize the importance of homeownership and will introduce more programs to get people in houses. This combined with interest rates that punish savers will lead to overconsumption and artificially inflated asset prices.
    5. I think we’ll be in serious trouble if China ever stops buying our treasuries.
    6. As the Eurozone starts to clean their mess up, more focus will be put on the US’ problems.
    7. I don’t think the Fiscal Cliff will be anything significant. I think Congress will agree on something but really delay any decisions from being made.
    8. I would put my money on Bill Gross. Regardless of the environment, I think he’ll be able to make money.
    9. I think we’ll have another recession (not necessarily in Obama’s term) because the Fed keeps easing the pain rather than allowing us to have a real recession.
    10. I’m scared about how large the government will get. All of the intentions are wonderful, but their involvement leads to inefficiencies. I think the Affordable Care Act will continue to be debated because I think someone will propose a higher tax for those without insurance so the decision of being constitutional will go back to the Supreme Court.

    I realize these are all pretty safe (and vague) predictions.

    • David M says

      I hear you BUT – what do you think would have happened first – the 20% tax cuts is my answer. What do I think never would have happened – cutting the loopholes, credits, etc. T

      Thus, we will have to agree to disagree – I think a Roomney presidentcy would have seen the budget deficit increase.

    • says

      Abe, thanks for your thoughts! China will NEVER stop buying our Treasuries b/c they need US consumers to buy their stuff! It’s a symbiotic relationship for LIFE!

      It’s all about the wealthy going into hiding over the next 4 years. Could be some great business opportunities. In fact, I’m going to write a book about it!

  8. tom says

    It doesn’t matter who won, Romney, Obama, Gary Johnson (sad he didn’t get his 5%). What matters is that the legislature is still divided.

    Democrats and Republicans had better come together to fix this fiscal cliff. The fact that the nation was equally divided just goes to show you that we are still completely in the middle. People want compromise. We want to see everyone work together to compromise on the impending fiscal cliff.

    We all need to make some sacrifices, rich AND middle class. Poor need to stay more or less “exempt”.

    I think Democrats and Republicans got the message. Many of them, in their victory speeches, were saying they want to get (back) to work with their brothers/sisters across the isle and work for the people. Often this is just BS, but we all HAVE to believe this to be true. If we don’t, this nation is screwed.

    • says

      You sure about that? See this part of my post:

      “Corporate profits are decelerating, while QE3 has already been announced. These are two main reasons why I took 80% off the table in September. Locking in a 16% return in an environment where I knew Obama would win presented itself with a classic sell on news situation. I’ll be shocked if the S&P500 climbs more than 10% over the next 12 months. Everyone should expect a whole lot of nothing because the Republicans will control the House and the Democrats will control the Senate. If things get rancorous enough, the markets will have a painful sell-off as we approach a “fiscal cliff.””

  9. says

    I was fairly confident that the Electoral College was going to go towards Obama; however I was not as sure as the popular vote. I am glad the popular vote and the electoral vote went to the same candidate as the last thing we needed right now was lawsuits to deal with the uncertainty like we had in 2000 Bush v. Gore.

    As far as my outlook in general it is the same regardless of who lives in the White House, neither candidate or congress (Senate and House) are really going to make the changes that are needed to truly get our economy back on track, what is needed are tough unfavorable decisions which no politician cares to make. My only hope is since it is Obama’s last election he “might” and I say this with a huge grain of salt (like enough salt to be called the Atlantic Ocean) make a few changes for the good of the country.

    Either way as an individual whose name is not Warren Buffett or George Soros etc.. Outside of casting our vote we have no impact on the policies that we are subjected to, so as always we have to do the best we can within the rules as they stand. The game is played by figuring out the rules whether it be tax related or debt servicing and find the most profitable path through the melee, if you have been doing fine so far you will continue to do so, my personal outlook over the next 4 years has not changed in 4 years from now I will be better off than I am now, just like I am better now than I was 4 years ago. There is no point wondering if I would be better in 4 years had Romney won compared to how I will be as Obama did win, that is not a possible scenario so why waste time on it. My choices and path might have been different under a different set of rules, but I plan on coming out ahead either way.

  10. says

    Romney played a very strong campaign and I felt he was a very serious candidate up until that video of him talking down to a chunk of Americans was leaked. It was game over from that point on — though I’ll give him props for still managing to do as well as he did toward the end.

  11. says

    Thanks for sharing your thought. It was a bit anti climatic last night, but it was still fun. I’m going to take 50% off the table when my rollover is done. It’s time to be more conservative and go to more bonds for now as well. I don’t know about Obamacare. The cost is still going up fast so I’m not very happy with that. At least I’ll be able to get health insurance for my mom next year. She can’t get insurance now due to pre existing conditions.

    • says

      If you can get health insurance for your mom when she couldn’t before, I would think that TRUMPS EVERYTHING and makes you a HUGE supporter of Obamacare! Who is more important than our mothers?

      • says

        Yeap. She’s going back to Thailand to get surgeries and other expensive procedures for now.
        Can you believe healthcare access in Thailand is better than the US? It’s sad.

  12. says

    I don’t know that it will change our investment strategy, though perhaps it should. We are thinking of buying a second property, and the low interest rates are definitely a contributing factor- you are right about the cheap borrowing. I really enjoyed this article!

    As far as Health Care and now being able to eat whatever we want because our medical bills will be taken care of, I disagree. We have Kaiser, and they started giving us money back for living a healthy lifestyle. They give me and my husband a pedometer and monitor our exercise level and then pay us accordingly. We can get $600/ year- that’s a huge motivator to exercise and try to live healthier! I see a lot of other companies doing similar things. It will take a few years for us to figure out the new health care laws, but I do believe it will be well in the end. Time will tell.

  13. Travis says

    I just checked my portfolio (Vanguard funds) and it is currently 17.2% stocks and 82.8% bonds. I made my shift from stocks to bonds in late March. It looks like I missed a short run-up in September, but we are already back below our March levels once again. My automatic purchases are still buying the stock fund each month.

    I wonder what’s next. Perhaps Big Ben tries to supersize QE3 in order to spur the market along while our politicians continue their bickering? I am assuming we will avoid the fiscal cliff, but it’ll be an 11th hour negotiation. (Gotta get some good drama for the media!) The markets will get hit in the meantime.

    Sam, have you determined when you will shift funds back into stocks?

    • says

      In fact, after today’s sell-off, the markets are down 4.5% since I took profits so I increased my allocation back to 60% today. It’s a game of percentages and outperformance. I still want a lot of dry power just in case shit really hits the fan.

  14. says

    I was more concerned with proposition 30 because it more directly affects me. It restores or prevents further cuts in education. I think this sums up my feelings about politics. National politics have very little effect on me and very little effect on my investing. Many of the tax changes (including Social Security) will affect my children and I have made suggestions to them what they can do.

    • says

      On Prop 30, do you think it is right for people to vote on raising taxes on others without having to pay more taxes themselves for ALL our children’s education? Why not have EVERYBODY pitch in to help our public schools instead?

    • says

      I published this post before the results. Here’s an official March 2012 post statement where I bet Republicans thousands of dollars Mitt would lose, with proceeds going to charity.

      It’s always fun to put your money where your mouth is, don’t you think? You can check out my predictions for 2011, and 2012 if you’re curious about my previous thoughts.

      Why do you ask? Is there not a similar detailed thought piece on the web post Obama victory?

      • says

        Oh you even published it before you knew the outcome! I am so impressed. I followed your bet closely, but I had too much emotion tied up in the election, and as they say, you can’t let passion get in the way of your money.

        And yes, this was written in such a clear voice that it seemed like you’d written it before you busted out the champagne.

  15. says

    If Socialism is taking root and we are all going to be the same, what is the point of maxing out my 401K and trying to build my income streams as much as possible? Won’t the government just come after me and tax me enough so that I am the same as everyone else? I’d be better off just being average and not waste my time trying to be something more. I could just kick my feet up and let other over-achievers fund my lack of ambition. But maybe I’m missing something?

    • says

      Because in four years, maybe we head back to Capitalism. Nothing stays the same forever. Always be investing and hedging. Better to have too much and pretend to have too little, than really have too little.

  16. says

    First off, I’m glad I didn’t place any bets on the Presidential outcome. I always pay my bets and would have lost money as I anticipated Romney winning.

    I’m trying to find something I disagree with in your predictions, but I think you are probably right on money – or at s least close. I however think that a deal will be made between the Republicans and Democrats before the fiscal cliff hits. I’m not sure what it will entail, but I’m guessing the taxes of the middle class will not go up significantly and the Bush tax cuts for this class will remain the same at least temporarily.

    My biggest concern is FED pumping. If the rest of the world rejects the dollar and continues to move away from it as a world currency we will eventually hit some form of significant inflation (since all our products are made overseas, including our fuel). Right now our growth is being fueled by this paper money and not creation of real wealth. This game can only go on for so long before the gigs up. We’ve had a monetary crises twice in our nations history and I wonder if we won’t have a 3rd here in the next 4-8 years.

    But, I hope I’m wrong and everything turns out ok. In the meantime I’m hedging this risk in my own portfolio…

  17. says

    Really good article, Sam, although I would debate the job outlook. Even though the unemployment numbers are improving, labor force participation rate is at all-time lows (worse than when the unemployment rate was near 10%). Other than that, I think you are spot on.

    Inflation could go either way. There is a lot of slack in the system, but sometimes expectations are more important. If prices start to increase in anticipation of inflation, it could become a reinforcing cycle before slack is totally worked out. Then unemployment rates will start coming down.

    Don’t know that I will change anything. I am going to be paying off debt which shouldn’t be affected by anything coming out of Washington.

    Finally, regardless of the circumstances, there are still ways to make money. Even socialist countries have billionaires.

  18. says

    Wow! This is an incredibly authoritative and thorough look at investing post election. Your final point is very crucial to all of this. Remember the individual investor can still achieve and make a lot in bear markets.

    I had thought regardless of presidential pick, stocks involved in long term healthcare research and care are going to be great choices. The aging population will continue to age and continue to need healthcare regardless of Obamacare or the lack thereof. Research will still be required and considered an asset.

  19. says

    I spoke about this at length on face book and I absolutely agree with you that our economy is on its path to recovery. Regardless of who won the presidential elections, at the end of the day, it all depends on us. We need to continually invest on ourselves to be able to do good in life and also financially. I haven’t made any changes with regards to my investments. I plan to continually invest my money on the right companies should I have enough funds for it. However, the next 4 years we will be in an expansion due to the monetary policy from the presidents first term.

  20. Akos says

    @Jon @ MoneySmartGuides

    Yes, Socialism is real in the US! I mean, it’s a socialist utopia to have poverty rates (as measured by the percentage of people who make 50% or less of the median income) on par with Mexico and Turkey! It’s also very socialist to have by far the world’s most expensive healthcare system (this was well before Obama, before you make a comment). We better all just move to Monaco before the US has an average poverty rate (we won’t) like the rest of the developed world.

    And they can’t take Kim Kardashian’s money from her. She NEEDS that money to do all that important stuff she does…curing cancer, developing new technologies, perhaps trying to save the planet we live on. And who needs laws, courts, police forces, infrastructure, and defense forces anyway? They aren’t taking MY tax dollars for it. So what if the masses can’t get jobs and have money to buy all of those cheap, useless, and shitty objects I produce? So what if they can’t afford to pay the rent in the trashy apartments I own? Who cares if they can’t afford to eat the frozen nutrition-less food in my restaurant? I’m sure the economy will keep on keepin’ on when people can’t afford to consume.

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