Presidential Election Cycle
Not to pick a fight with Keynesians (or other economists), but we’re reluctant to label the explosion in the federal deficit as unequivocally “stimulative.” Some factors behind the increase probably do boost the economy, but others simply rob Peter to pay Paul.
The hostile monetary backdrop makes recent stock market exuberance even more irrational than in early 2021. Yet, this is the middle of a seasonal window that historically boasts an elevated level of craziness: It is the year preceding a presidential election—a time when monetary and fiscal stimulus are ramped up.
We’ve reminded dejected readers throughout 2022 that this year was statistically “cursed” from the onset. It’s a year ending in “2” and a Shmita year on the Jewish calendar, both of which have been associated with far below average stock market returns. More importantly, it’s a midterm election year, traditionally the weakest of the four-year cycle.
We scrutinized the typical path of money growth during the four-year presidential election cycle, and found that it typically tends to bottom out in October of the midterm year! The cycle says a monetary pivot is imminent, and the average pattern traced out by M2 suggests an acceleration in the growth rate of about 2.5% leading up to the presidential election.
Does the market’s poor YTD performance prior to the six-month “Sell in May” combined with the Presidential Election Cycle help “inoculate” it against a typical mid-year, mid-term swoon? Yes, there’s some evidence to support that view—especially with Small Caps.
Presidents and the popular press have become obsessed with performance over the “first 100 days” in office. That prompted us to see if there have been any persistent stock market effects related to this 100-day window. There are many ways to slice the data, and the more we sliced it, the fewer the observations.
This month’s “Of Special Interest” takes a stab at debunking the “Sell In May And Go Away” anomaly. Instead, we have come to respect this annual strategy.
It seems that once all of Wall Street becomes aware of an indicator or historic market pattern, the damn things no longer seem to work. Is this now true of the Presidential election cycle? Well, don’t give up on this yet. According to Arthur Merrill’s research, the market so far in 1984 has been acting just like it is supposed to. The fireworks come in the last two quarters of the year.