The stock market has so far shrugged off the impeachment drama enveloping Washington. But how have markets reacted to previous impeachments?
Investors don’t expect President Donald Trump to get removed from office. Prediction platform PredictIt showed only a 20% chance of a removal in the days after the inquiry began.
“While there has been a slightly negative market reaction to the House impeachment inquiry, this is entirely rational, and nothing that could be called a panic,” said David Donabedian, chief investment officer of CIBC Private Wealth Management.
The market is more concerned with fundamentals for now, including trade and the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy.
The S&P 500 (SPX) finished 1% lower last week, but this downward move had more to do with news about the the trade war with China.
Still, what conclusions, if any, can we draw from how the market reacted to previous impeachments?
Markets climbs around Clinton impeachment
In the year following President Bill Clinton’s impeachment inquiry in 1998, the S&P rallied 39%. He was acquitted by the Senate.
The stock market’s rise had little to do with politics, however, as there were plenty of factors to boost stocks.
Tech stocks were getting hot as the tech bubble of the early 2000s began to form, and the Federal Reserve was cutting interest rates.
“That’s why the market was up,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance.
Downturn around Nixon’s impeachment
Things looked different during the impeachment inquiry into Richard Nixon around late 1973 and early 1974. In the year following Nixon’s impeachment process, the S&P dropped 33%.
But again the markets’ moves were driven by the economy, which was in a recession. Stocks were in a bear market and inflation was high and the oil crisis was raging.
Nixon wasn’t removed from office, but resigned before this conclusion could be reached by the Senate.
“The backdrop was negative anyway, but I have to believe that such a big change in the government will bring about a lot of uncertainty,” Zaccarelli said. “And markets hate uncertainty.”
Indeed, if the Trump impeachment inquiry starts to affect critical policy, the muted market reaction could change. For example, some investors are worried that the ratification of the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement could be jeopardized. There is also a question about whether impeachment would delay or speed up a possible trade deal with China.
Then there is the factor of President Trump’s volatile nature.
“The fact is, while impeachment adds a bit to market uncertainty temporarily, Trump himself is the major cause of market uncertainty, as trade continues to dominate investors’ concerns,” wrote Marshall Gittler, investment strategy contributor for BDSwiss.group, in a post.