For me—a woman, a feminist, a liberal, a democrat—what happened on Tuesday night was more than unexpected.
No matter how you voted (and note that only about 50% of Americans exercised their right to vote), the results stunned the world. An ABC reporter said it was the “biggest upset in 100 years.” Others have likened the outcome to the Brexit surprise in England. My take is that Trump showed us that humans are still driven by animal spirits, and when those animal spirits are roused, they are easily riled. When people are persuaded to fear for their personal safety, they leave sanity behind.
So here we are. And while there are many (many!) questions in our future, the most pressing question that many of you have asked is: what’s next?
From a market perspective, it’s likely the situation will mirror what followed England’s Brexit vote.
The markets do not like surprises, which is why the Dow Futures were down 800 points once it was clear Trump was going to win the election. So it was even more surprising that US Equity prices were relatively flat Wednesday morning, and even closed slightly higher by the end of the day.
Perhaps the market will remain positive, but a Trump Presidency has the whole world concerned about the immediate future of the world’s most significant economic, military, and moral power.
This uncertainty may create volatility in the US and global markets. Volatility is something to be mentally prepared for, but (and here’s the good news) it’s not a situation that requires tactical changes to your portfolio.
1. Our portfolios are constructed based on academic evidence and economic fundamentals
While a change in our country’s administration can feel overwhelming, the foundational elements of your investment strategy have not changed. The US has been in a slow and steady recovery from the Great Recession, and despite the rhetoric of the election, our economic fundamentals are stronger than they’ve been in years. Also, while presidential elections do add a layer of uncertainty—and the markets don’t like uncertainty—they historically don’t have a long-term effect on market performance. Over time, money will find value, and that is unlikely to change. Now is the time to trust the fundamentals.
2. In times of volatility, deserting the market is the worst possible financial decision
While there’s not even a hint of a market crash at the moment, take a moment to think back to 2008. We all know someone who panicked and pulled assets out of the market and went to cash. Those who did are still trying to recover. Many never will. Those who stayed calm and trusted the market are on stronger financial ground than before the market plummeted. Stay calm. Don’t react to headlines. And trust your strategy.
3. Our government remains the best government in the history of the world
Don’t misunderstand me; as a feminist, I am utterly disappointed that Hillary Clinton—a women who is highly qualified and supported by the most respected and well informed Americans—just lost an election to a man who I and many others believe lacks the qualification, temperament, and moral fiber to be President.
However, while the US government is not perfect, it is carefully designed with checks and balances to prevent swift and undesirable change. Even if Trump wants to fulfill some of his most volatile campaign promises, we must trust that those checks and balances will prevent damaging change and, ideally, sustain recent progress in civil rights, environmental protections, and fiscal responsibility.
When President Obama addressed the nation this morning, he was as eloquent and elegant in his message as always.
He said, “Even if we lose, we still move forward.” I have to believe that. Despite our differences, let us all keep moving forward with strength, hope, and tenacity. In our personal relationships, our political ambitions, and our financial lives.
Hillary said it well in her concession speech. “Our campaign was never about one person, or even one election. It was about the country we love and building an America that is hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted.” That’s the message that will keep me focused on the future. Because, as President Obama stressed in his speech, “The sun will come up in the morning.” It did. It will. And we too shall shine.
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