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Political Indicators

It is plausible that political winds might sway the economy and therefore financial markets. To what degree do politics matter for equity investors? Should they worry about the philosophy of the party in power or unusual market behavior relative to elections? Should they act on the prognostications of political experts? These blog entries address relationships between politics and the stock market.

Exploiting the Presidential Cycle and Party in Power

Are there reliable ways to exploit differences in asset class returns under Democratic and Republican U.S. presidents? In his April 2011 paper entitled “Is the 60-40 Stock-Bond Pension Fund Rule Wise?”, William Ziemba examines relationships between the U.S. presidential election cycle and long-run returns for several asset classes. Specifically, he investigates the differential performance of large capitalization stocks, small capitalization stocks and bonds when Democrats and Republicans hold the presidency. Using annual asset class return data for 1998 through 2010 to extend prior calculations for 1937-1997 and 1942-1997, he finds that: Keep Reading

Party Composition in Congress and Stock Returns

The U.S. Democratic and Republican political parties arguably exhibit persistently different policy inclinations that affect the aggregate performance of public companies and therefore the U.S. stock market. “Party in Power and Stock Returns” investigates annual stock returns for different combinations of the party in control of the the Presidency, the House of Representatives and the Senate on a binary basis (Democrat or Republican). Do future stock market returns vary systematically with party composition and change in party composition of Congress? To investigate, we relate Republican composition of the House and Senate and prior session-to-session change in Republican composition to U.S. stock market returns during the session. Using party representation in Congress and stock index data for the Shiller data set since 1871, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) since 1929 and the S&P 500 Index since 1951, we find that: Keep Reading

A Few Notes on Capital Rising

In their June 2010 book Capital Rising: How Capital Flows Are change Business Systems All Over the World, authors Peter Cohan and Srinivasa Rangan mine lessons from 47 case studies to “describe the phenomenon of capital flows, present new ways to think about what causes them to rise and fall, and describe ways that our readers can profit from this framework.” Specifically, in Chapter 7 (“Implications for Capital Providers”) they argue “that analyzing a country’s EE [Entrepreneurial Ecosystem] is essential for capital providers to maximize investment returns” and provide a six-step methodology to “help capital providers to sniff out the best opportunities…” The six steps are: Keep Reading

How Rigorous is the Stock Trader’s Almanac?

A reader asked: “I am curious how reliable some of the factors referenced in the Stock Trader’s Almanac are, but I see no reference to it on your site. Could you review the book and/or the primary strategies in the book? I would be curious to have your perspective on how rigorous its analysis is.” Keep Reading

Regulatory Activity and Stock Returns

How does the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) level of spending relate to U.S. stock market returns? Are expenditures reactive, growing after bear markets? Does higher spending boost investor confidence and subsequent stock returns? To investigate, we relate SEC outlays and the S&P 500 Index by federal fiscal year (October through September). Using agency outlay data for fiscal years 1990 through 2010 (estimates for the final two years) and S&P 500 closes for fiscal years 1986 through 2008, we find that: Keep Reading

Do Investors Prefer an Idle Congress?

“When Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Sell!” summarizes research finding that the U.S. stock market generates higher and less volatile when Congress is not in session. Is this finding robust to inclusion of recent data? To check, we examine average daily returns when the U.S. Senate is in session and out of session based on open-to-open market data (for alignment of daily Senate activity to potentially related daily trading). Using Senate in session data, party in power data and daily opening levels of the S&P 500 Index for 1978 through 2009 (partial through June 12), we find that: Keep Reading

“It’s the P/E, Stupid!”

Is there a relationship between investor risk-aversion, as indicated by the aggregate U.S. stock market price-earnings ratio (P/E), and level of public satisfaction with the performance of the President? In their December 2008 paper entitled “Speculating on Presidential Success: Exploring the Link between the Price-Earnings Ratio and Approval Ratings”, Tomasz Wisniewski, Geoffrey Lightfoot and Simon Lilley examine the relationship between aggregate stock market P/E and the surveyed level of public approval of the current President. Using quarterly P/E for the S&P Composite Stock Price Index derived from Robert Shiller’s long-run dataset and Gallup presidential approval survey data from the beginning of 1950 through the third quarter of 2007 (231 observations), they conclude that: Keep Reading

Spectral Analysis of Stock Market Cyclicality

Are there reliable periodicities in U.S. stock returns tied to national election cycles? In their October 2008 paper entitled “Financial Astrology: Mapping the Presidential Election Cycle in US Stock Markets”, Wing-Keung Wong and Michael McAleer apply spectral analysis to identify and quantify cycles in U.S. stock market returns, including a presidential election cycle. Using weekly S&P 500 index data for the period 1965-2003, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Presidential Politics and Industry Returns

Do certain market industries outperform when Democrats or Republicans hold the U.S. presidency, or during certain years of the presidential term? In their recent paper entitled “Political Cycles in US Industry Returns”, Jeffrey Stangl and Ben Jacobsen investigate whether specific industries tend to perform better: (1) under Democratic or Republican presidents; and (2) during the last two years of a presidency. Using return data for 48 industries representing all stocks listed on the major U.S. exchanges during 1926-2006, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Political Influences on Stock Valuation Levels

Do political factors influence stock valuation levels? In his July 2007 paper entitled “Can Political Factors Explain the Behavior of Stock Prices Beyond the Standard Present Value Models?”, Tomasz Wisniewski explores the degree to which political factors affect valuation of U.S. equities. Specifically, he examines whether party holding the Presidency (12 presidencies), Presidential approval ratings and timing of eight major military conflicts affect stock price levels relative to rational valuation models. Using data from a variety of sources for the period 1945-2005, he concludes that: Keep Reading

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