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Impeachment and the Impact on the Stock Market

Impeaching a President with the possibility of removal from office is by no means great for the country. However, it may not be so horrible for the stock market or investors if history is any guide.

 

 

By Jeffrey Hirsch

We first touched on this over two years ago here on the blog and now that much has transpired and the US House of Representatives is now proceeding with drafting articles of impeachment we figured it was a good time to revisit the history (albeit limited) of market behavior during presidential impeachment proceedings. The three charts below really tell the story.

During the Watergate scandal of Nixon’s second term the market suffered a major bear market from January 1973 to October/December 1974 with the Dow(NYSEARCA:DIA) down 45.1%, S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) down 48.2% and NASDAQ (NYSEARCA:QQQ) down 59.9%. Sure there were other factors that contributed to the bear market such as the Oil Embargo, Arab-Israeli War, collapse of the Bretton Woods system, high inflation and Watergate. However, shortly after Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974 the market reached the secular bear market low on October 3 for S&P and NASDAQ and December 6 for the Dow.

Leading up to the Clinton investigations and through his subsequent impeachment and the acquittal by the Senate the market was on a tear as one of the biggest bull markets in history raged on. After the 1994 midterm elections when the Republicans took back control of both houses of Congress the market remained on a 45 degree upward trajectory except for a few blips and the shortest bear market on record that lasted 45 days and bottomed on August 31, 1998.

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Clinton was impeached in December 1998 and acquitted in February 1999 as the market continued higher throughout his second term. Sure there were other factors that contributed to the late-1990s bull-run such as the Dotcom Boom, the Information Revolution, millennial fervor and a booming global economy, but Clinton’s personal scandal had little negative impact on markets.

It remains to be seen of course what will happen with President Trump’s impeachment proceeding and how the world and markets react, but the market continues to march on. If the limited history of impeachment proceedings of a US President in modern times (no offense to our 17th President Andrew Johnson) is any guide, the market has bounced back after the last two impeachment proceedings and was higher a year later. Perhaps it will be better to buy any impeachment dip rather than sell it.

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