When Taken by Surprise, Wait it Out

“Little is ever clear about an incoming president, and no more than usual—perhaps less—is clear about this one,” says Jason Zweig of The Wall Street Journal. In yesterday’s “Moneybeat”, Zweig warns that investing action during a time of “political shock” is best put on hold.

In the article, he argues that few could have anticipated the precipitous plunge (700 points) in Dow Jones Industrial Average futures on Tuesday night, only to be followed by a rally yesterday morning. While several consensus views are suggesting that investors should buy “defense and infrastructure stocks on the expectation that Mr. Trump will boost spending; sell Mexico and other emerging markets; bet against the chance that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in December,” Zweig warns not to be “fooled” by such predictions.

He uses a few examples to drive home the point:

  • President Obama was expected to impose health-care regulations, which he did, but health-care stocks ended up “outperforming the rest of the stock market” during his time in office.
  • President George W. Bush was “clearly” going to increase military spending, which he also did. However, Zweig points out, FactSet data shows that defense stocks lost 19% in 2001 and nearly 7% in 2002.
  • The upshot, says Zweig, is to hold your horses. “With the consensus in the wake of surprises so often wrong, the only sensible step for investors to take at a time like this is to do nothing.”