The anticipation building up to elections often brings with it questions about how financial markets will respond. But the outcome of an election is only one of many inputs to the market. Dimensional Fund Advisors’ interactive exhibit examines market and economic data for nearly 100 years of US presidential terms and shows a consistent upward march for US equities regardless of the administration in place. This is an important lesson on the benefits of a long-term investment approach.
It’s natural for investors to look for a connection between who wins the White House and which way stocks will go. But as nearly a century of returns shows, stocks have trended upward across administrations from both parties.
- Shareholders are investing in companies, not a political party. And companies focus on serving their customers and growing their businesses, regardless of who is in the White House.
- US presidents may have an impact on market returns, but so do hundreds, if not thousands, of other factors—the actions of foreign leaders, a global pandemic, interest rate changes, rising and falling oil prices, and technological advances, just to name a few.
Stocks have rewarded disciplined investors for decades, through Democratic and Republican presidencies. It’s an important lesson on the benefits of a long-term investment approach.
Market Returns During Presidential Years
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing risks include loss of principal and fluctuating value. There is no guarantee an investment strategy will be successful.
Indices are not available for direct investment. Their performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio.
NOTES AND DATA SOURCES
- This material is in relation to the US market and contains analysis specific to the US.
- In US dollars. Stock returns represented by Fama/French Total US Market Research Index, provided by Ken French and available at http://mba.tuck.dartmouth.edu/pages/faculty/ken.french/data_library.html. This value-weighed US market index is constructed every month, using all issues listed on the NYSE, AMEX, or Nasdaq with available outstanding shares and valid prices for that month and the month before. Exclusions: American depositary receipts. Sources: CRSP for value-weighted US market return. Rebalancing: Monthly. Dividends: Reinvested in the paying company until the portfolio is rebalanced.
- Growth of wealth shows the growth of a hypothetical investment of $100 in the securities in the Fama/French US Total Market Research Index. Growth of wealth for the full sample from March 4, 1929, through June 30, 2020. Growth of wealth for each presidential term starts on the election day of each president up to but not including the election day of a successor. For presidents who are not initially elected, the growth of wealth period starts from the day of inauguration up to but not including the successor’s election day.
- Federal surplus or deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product, inflation, and unemployment data from Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (FRED). GDP Growth is annual real GDP Growth, using constant 2012 dollars, as provided by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. Unemployment data not reported prior to April 1929. Federal surplus or deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product data is cumulative.
- US Government Presidential and Congressional data obtained from the History, Art & Archives of the United States House of Representatives. US Senate data is from the Art & History records of the United States Senate.
- For Herbert Hoover, the federal budget is calculated from 1929 to 1932. Annual real GDP growth is calculated from 1930 to 1932; GDP data not available prior to 1930.
Data presented in the Growth of Wealth chart is hypothetical and assumes reinvestment of income and no transaction costs or taxes. The chart is for illustrative purposes only and is not indicative of any investment.
This material was prepared by Dimensional Fund Advisors, and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP is an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
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Eugene Fama and Ken French are members of the Board of Directors of the general partner of, and provide consulting services to, Dimensional Fund Advisors LP.
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