Last week, I warned our followers that this election could lead to market-painful results and suggested above-normal exposure to cash and Gold.
By Tuesday, I was ready to watch the election returns with real interest because I had convinced myself that Mr. Trump really was a better choice than Mrs. Clinton, because:
- He had told fewer obvious lies, and many of his economic proposals made sense. Most importantly, if he lost, those insufferable Politically Correct busybodies would be causing even more suffering.
- Although the polls said he had only a 20-25% chance of winning, if he did pull it off, he would have to work with a Republican House and maybe a Republican Senate—each led by savvy conservatives with profound knowledge of the budgetary process.
- Clinton had been forced by Bernie’s astonishingly strong campaign to agree to promise vast expenditures on new “free” programs, including university education.
- He had been looking enthusiastic, persuasive and reasonable for two whole weeks.
Within an hour after the first polls closed, it became apparent that Mr. Trump was looking good in nearly every one of the early-reporting states. Within two hours, he was winning most of the states on his to-win list and was close in the rest, and within three hours he was looking good on some big states that had been rated sure Democratic wins by all the “experts”” I’d read. (Even Wisconsin, which Mrs. Clinton had not even visited once in that entire campaign, because she was so far ahead.)
I checked the price of Gold and it was strengthening.
Within minutes, I learned that Dow Futures were down 700 points and Gold had rallied back above $1300.
By midnight, I went to bed, pretty confident that the Republicans would have control in Washington. All that was needed would be success in Michigan or Pennsylvania.
By morning, when Mrs. Clinton had conceded, Gold prices were down sharply from their highs and that weakness continued while US equities were in a new, roaring bull market.
Since then Gold has once again been moving to the background.
A friend drew my attention to a video showing that the brilliant Stanley Druckenmiller had sold all his Gold and was betting on a strong recovery, accompanied by higher interest rates. Since Mr. Druckenmiller is one of the four or five most brilliant investors of our time, and had been a big Gold booster this year, this was really sobering news.
He had been the most conspicuous backer of Ohio Governor John Kasich for the Republican leadership. I had watched his interviews feeling that he was right on the value of the product, but wrong that it had any chance of being bought.
So he now believes that Mr. Trump should be able to exceed expectations, and haul the US economy from its Slough of Despond. In that case, having Gold as a hedge against bad news might be as rewarding as buying protection against excessive rainfall in Saudi Arabia.
My take is that the same markets which had concluded Mr. Trump was a dangerous idiot and were rooting for Mrs. Clinton are agog that he is having “productive conversations” with Speaker Paul Ryan and even with the President. (It has not been revealed whether he explained to the President why he suddenly reversed his multi-year claim that Mr. Obama had been born in Africa, and was therefore an illegitimate President.)
We are guardedly optimistic that President Trump (there, I’ve said it) will be able to boost US economic activity above the slow, stately pace of the Obama years. But he has to deal with Republican budget experts who believe that only by finding ways to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will the deficit be brought under control. Mr. Trump has declared (sensibly in my view) that too many Americans depend on these programs and they cannot be slashed—even to finance that Mexican Wall.
Mr. Trump and his colleagues will be entombing Obamacare and replacing it with a plan that works, and that will be sufficient challenge for next year in the Really Big Change department. Mr. Druckenmiller’s enthusiasm about the Trumpian Infrastructure Boom that will drive base metal prices sharply higher is, in our view, a dubious proposition. In the Eisenhower Era, the Interstate Highway Program was driven through state and local objections and attempted route changes. Now, unless Mr. Trump completely squashes the Environmental Protection Administration and its litigious government counterparts in many states, most of the early rewards will go to lawyers.
There is indeed more reason to have Hope for the US economy today than a week ago. The Republicans not only control most of the power centers in Washington that aren’t lobbyists and union officials, but managed to add to their record total of Governorships and state legislatures. The nation is more Republican than at almost any time in its history. No wonder the Liberals are in despair: they assumed that demography was about to hand them the keys of power for decades, starting right now.
But there are still many potholes and doubtful bridges along the road to economic progress, meaning that Gold and Silver—bullion and mining stocks—should be in your portfolio.
Shifting the despair from Republicans to Democrats created an investment concept. But concepts need to be reified. Until the modern version of Yellow Brick Roads are actually being built, some yellow bricks or shares in gold mining companies are in order.
November 10, 2016