Time to Separate the Market from Politics

The widespread assumption that the strength in both equities and bond yields is a result of Trump’s election may be misleading, writes Zach Karabell in last week’s Barron’s.

Envestnet’s head of Global Strategies argues that equity strength could have come from strong fundamentals “that are now more in focus” with the election behind us, and that “some rise in bond yields and a tapering of the bond bull market has been long overdue.”

With the potential effects of Trump’s initiatives removed from the equation, Karabell says it’s possible to “make a solid case for why stocks are doing well.” He argues that financial stocks, which are widely assumed to be reacting positively to upcoming Dodd-Frank rollbacks, could have been trading at a deep discount to the market due to low interest rates. Regarding the boost in industrials, says Karabell, there have been signs of increased spending in both the U.S. and abroad even without the post-election push, writes Karabell.

The outperformance of growth over value stocks, small-caps over large-caps, and international over domestic, he says, “signals modest confidence in both a U.S. and global economic expansion” notwithstanding uncertainty around U.S. trade policies and regulation.

According to Karabell, “Ascribing market strength to the election runs the risk of incorrectly identifying what is driving capital.”