Understanding the Election, Market Surprises and Interest Rate Increases

As the end of 2016 grows closer, we have to say that this has certainly been an eventful year. A long presidential election campaign left many Americans feeling bruised and more divided than ever. And many people were surprised when Donald Trump emerged as the victor. Similar to Brexit’s unexpected win in June, election polling and conventional wisdom proved to be quite wrong once people actually voted.

In fact, just 15 days before the election, the Washington Post said, “Donald Trump’s chances of winning are approaching zero.” Statistician and writer Nate Silver — who correctly predicted winners in all 50 states and D.C. for the 2012 presidential election — called this year’s results “the most shocking political development of my lifetime.”

No matter how you feel about the election’s outcome, we know that you may have many questions about what lies ahead. So, we’d like to provide deeper perspectives on what’s happened since the election and what to consider in the coming months.

1. What We’ve Seen So Far

Noteworthy Market Growth

Despite many predictions that the markets would go down if Trump won, we’ve experienced a significant bounce since his election. On Friday, December 9, all three major U.S. stock indexes ended at record highs. For the first time in five years, they each posted gains every day of the trading week.

Positive Economic Data

At the same time, we’ve also received a number of positive indicators about our economy. The Consumer Price Index has had its best three months since 2012, retail sales continue to show steady gains, new unemployment gains were at their lowest point since 1973, and housing starts rose a whopping 25.5% in October.

In other words, data continues to show us that the economy is growing and gaining strength.

2. What’s On the Horizon

Interest Rate Increase

Now that the election is over, the Federal Reserve’s December meeting is the next big event that may affect market performance. We have anticipated a rate hike and on November 17, Fed Chairman Janet Yellen – who has proved hesitant to raise rates – told lawmakers that the increase could happen “relatively soon.” And that it did, as the Federal Reserve unanimously decided to raise rates on December 14, 2016, by a quarter point, bringing them to a range of 0.5 to 0.75 percent.

According to the Federal Reserve’s press release issued on December 14, 2016, “The Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run. However, the actual path of the federal funds rate will depend on the economic outlook as informed by incoming data.”

Interest rate increases could cause some market volatility in the short term. But, the Fed moving rates back to more normal levels is fundamentally a positive sign, because it indicates that the economy is healthy enough to withstand them.

President-Elect Trump’s Inauguration

Currently, the markets, media, politicians — and average Americans — are all looking for signs of what kind of president Donald Trump will actually be. We can look to his campaign promises and analyze his appointments, but no one can know for sure how he will serve until after he takes office January 20.

The markets’ rallies seem to show that investors expect increased infrastructure spending, plus decreases in three key areas: corporate tax rates, individual income taxes, and government regulation. But, as we’ve seen again and again in 2016, only time will tell.

In the meantime, we hope you will find confidence knowing that the economy shows many signs of sustained growth and fundamental strength. If you have any questions about how your strategy aligns with current circumstances, please feel free to contact us. If you are not currently working with an advisor or would like a second opinion review of your situation, please call us at 913.814.3800. Our country might feel divided right now, but we are by your side, no matter the political or economic climate.


Washington Post, Telegraph, FiveThirtyEight, Yahoo Finance, CNBC 1, Census, FT Portfolios 1, Wall Street Journal 1, FT Portfolios 2, CNBC 2, Wall Street Journal 2, Federal Reserve

Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product made reference to directly or indirectly in this content, will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), or be suitable for you or your portfolio. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter (article) serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Searcy Financial Services, Inc.

The content of this letter does not constitute a tax or legal opinion. Always consult with a competent professional service provider for advice on tax or legal matters specific to your situation. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed in this content, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  

Published for the blog on December 15, 2016 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.