Politics and Your Portfolio

“A quarter of rich U.S. investors are so concerned that the U.S. presidential race will hurt share prices that they are considering pulling out of the stock market entirely, according to a survey by UBS AG Wealth Management Americas.

Five percent of the 2,300 mostly high net worth investors surveyed said they had already converted all of their U.S. stock holdings to cash, according to survey of investors in early June.

Overall, 57 percent of investors said they were considering changing how their investments were allocated ahead of the election, and three out of five said they plan to discuss or have already discussed the election with their advisers.” – UBS Survey, Reuters

It’s a fear as old as time. The election is coming and investors are scared. They don’t know how the election will turn out and many are assuming the worst.  That fear is leading some to irrational decisions like making changes to their investment portfolio.

In a recent UBS poll, 57% said they are considering some kind of change. 5% of the mostly high net worth investors surveyed said they already moved all of their U.S. stock holdings to cash.

Historically, would such a drastic move prove to be a wise decision?

In a word: no.

Since 1928, $10,000 invested in the S&P 500 would have grown to $31.6 million. The same $10,000 investment that avoided all election years would have grown to only $3.9 million.


This equates to a 9.5% annualized return for the S&P 500 in all years versus only 7.0% without election years.


Why has avoiding election years been so damaging to long-term investment returns? Because the average annualized return during election years of 9.6% is actually slightly higher than the average for non-election years at 9.5%.


History has also shown that the odds of a positive year are actually higher (82%) in election years than non-election years (73%).

We’re seeing that play out again thus far in 2016 with the S&P 500 up 7.7% through the first 7 months of this year.


That’s not to say that stocks can’t go down before or after a presidential election. They certainly can as we saw most recently in 2000 and 2008. But based on the full historical evidence, this would appear to be coincidental to the election and far from causative.

The rational investor, then, would seem do best by leaving politics out of their portfolio. Something to keep in mind as the empty rhetoric intensifies in the coming months.

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This writing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell, a solicitation to buy, or a recommendation regarding any securities transaction, or as an offer to provide advisory or other services by Pension Partners, LLC in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation, purchase or sale would be unlawful under the securities laws of such jurisdiction. The information contained in this writing should not be construed as financial or investment advice on any subject matter. Pension Partners, LLC expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken based on any or all of the information on this writing.



Charlie Bilello is the Director of Research at Pension Partners, LLC, an investment advisor that manages mutual funds and separate accounts.  He is the co-author of four award-winning research papers on market anomalies and investing. Mr. Bilello is responsible for strategy development, investment research and communicating the firm’s investment themes and portfolio positioning to clients. Prior to joining Pension Partners, he was the Managing Member of Momentum Global Advisors and previously held positions as a Credit, Equity and Hedge Fund Analyst at billion dollar alternative investment firms.

Mr. Bilello holds a J.D. and M.B.A. in Finance and Accounting from Fordham University and a B.A. in Economics from Binghamton University. He is a Chartered Market Technician (CMT) and a Member of the Market Technicians Association. Mr. Bilello also holds the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate.

You can follow Charlie on twitter here.


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