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Markets Swing On Election Night Drama

Note to our readers: This column is not an endorsement of any candidate but is meant to discuss the capital market reactions to the post-election outcome.

Much like 2016, yesterday’s US election and the continuing aftermath have led to market volatility as investors struggle to understand the results. Once again, the polls failed to predict the actual results. As votes were being cast yesterday, investors were assuming a potential “blue wave” with Democrats in control of the Presidency, Senate and House. Equity markets staged a “relief rally” on the certainty of a definitive result. Treasuries sold off. The 10 year Treasury yield spiked to 0.96% after hours as investors assumed passage of another big stimulus package and potentially other major federal spending such as infrastructure. This bet on big fiscal policy meant lots of new treasury issuance so a sell off occurred. As the results came in during the evening, it became clear that the House and Senate were going to be split and the Presidential result would be uncertain for a few days at least. This scenario put stimulus and infrastructure expectations in reverse. Combined with the uncertainty of the Presidential result, a flight to quality was underway. This increased appetite for treasuries and the yield dropped 20 bps to about 0.75% this morning. Wall Street traditionally likes a divided government as that provides certainty of no major policy changes. But this hope is complicated by the need for some stimulus to avoid a long drawn out recovery from COVID-19 pandemic. The anticipated lack of fiscal policy will now put added pressure on the Fed to provide continuing accommodative monetary policy. I would expect that Fed chair Powell will address this tomorrow at his press conference for the November meeting. Stay tuned. By David R. Pascale, Jr. , Senior Vice President at George Smith Partners