NEW YORK— The longest bull market run in American history could get killed off by a financial collapse in Turkey, a policy mistake by the Federal Reserve or a plain old economic recession.
It will probably not be slain by an impeachment of President Donald Trump.
That’s the consensus view of Wall Street traders and money managers, who say that while an ugly impeachment fight might cause temporary volatility, markets could easily survive an impeachment and even the unlikely event that Trump is removed from office in a Senate trial.
In fact, Wall Street pros often talk about a potential relief rally if Trump departs the White House early.
The underlying economy would remain strong and a hypothetical President Mike Pence would likely continue Trump’s policy of low taxes and fewer regulations without all the wild tweeting and investigations and persistent trade wars.
“I’m not sure the market would be all that upset by Trump being forced to leave,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group. “Many Republicans might welcome it, and if Pence moves in, the basic low regulation, low tax nature of the presidency would be the same, only without the constant self-induced volatility, and maybe ‘trade wars’ would diminish.”
Trump took a very different view in an interview with Fox News that aired Thursday morning, predicting a stock market collapse should he be impeached.
“I will tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor,” he said, amid new legal turmoil this week with two former advisers, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, now guilty of criminal acts.
Trump loves to bask in the stock market advance under his presidency and boasted this week about the length of the bull market. And stocks have indeed celebrated his policies on taxes and regulation.
But markets now move very little on news of fresh legal trouble for Trump. And analysts say that’s in part because the economic and stock market recoveries long predate Trump’s presidency and would probably live on without him.
“Fading trade wars, no change in corporate taxes and the deregulatory air in Washington would be something of a ‘Washington Goldilocks’ situation,” Michael Obuchowski, portfolio manager at Merlin Asset Management, said of a potential impeachment.
When Wall Street analysts list risks to the current market, they most often cite external turmoil, such as the currency crisis that recently rocked Turkey or the Fed moving too fast — or too slow — on interest rates. Geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula also show up as potential destroyers of a bull market born in the ash heap of the 2009 financial crisis.
They sometimes cite political uncertainty surrounding Trump, but that is usually couched as the potential for trade wars and other unpredictable policies, not the threat of his removal.
Wall Street analysts generally agree that a protracted impeachment fight and potential Senate trial could weigh on stocks, giving Trump the opportunity to claim vindication for his market crash prediction. But they say any drop on Wall Street would be based on the uncertainty of the outcome of such a fight rather than real fear of a post-Trump presidency.
Stefanie Miller, a senior analyst at Height Capital Markets in Washington, said investors would be unnerved by any impeachment effort because of the instability that would bring.
“I do NOT think the market will shrug off impeachment proceedings in the House even if they don’t lead to a conviction in the Senate,” she said in an email. “Based on frequent conversations I’ve had with investors, I don’t get a sense that many would welcome the instability/headline risk stemming from those proceedings.”
A larger concern among some investors is that Trump survives but Republicans are so damaged by him that they lose both the House and Senate, putting market-friendly policies more at risk.
“If the scandal helps both the House and Senate to go Democrat to a point where they could reverse tax or regulatory policies, that would matter to the markets,” Paulsen said. “But this seems unlikely and even if both go Democrat it would mean gridlock for Trump’s term, not much different.”