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對于彈劾總統,華爾街關注這兩個數字

Bob Sellers 2019年11月14日

華爾街關注華盛頓,而華盛頓也在關注華爾街。

華爾街喜歡數字:利潤、市盈率、投資回報率、上方阻力位、賬面價值、市場份額和折現現金流,諸如此類。在眾議院準備推動彈劾總統的調查時,華爾街關注的是兩個數字:67和88%。前一個是眾議院提出彈劾后,將特朗普總統趕下臺需要的參議院贊成票數。88%則是目前共和黨內部對特朗普的支持率。除非這個數字出現變化,否則除了已經和民主黨站在一起的47名參議員外,將不大可能再出現20位持有同樣立場的共和黨參議員。

或許是出于這個原因,在眾議院議長南希·佩洛西宣布正式啟動彈劾調查后,美國股市第二天出現上漲。專業投資者的選擇是更關注于中美貿易緊張局勢可能得到化解以及能夠為美國農民提供幫助的美日貿易協議。股市和彈劾總統的歷史就是這樣。除非政治行為觸及其底線,否則投資者就會視而不見。

雖然美國國會此前的三次彈劾調查均未能把現任總統趕下臺,但在這一點上也許需要特別說明一下——理查德·尼克松在幾乎肯定將被彈劾前辭了職,并被民主黨領導的國會逐出了白宮,當時他的支持率已經跌破30%,共和黨也已經放棄為他進行辯護。由于安德魯·約翰遜被彈劾的時間比道瓊斯工業指數幾乎早了30年,我們將只關注現代的兩位可比較人物,也就是理查德·尼克松和比爾·克林頓。

毫無疑問,水門事件時期的股市很難看。20世紀70年代初期至中期,道瓊斯工業指數從高點到低點一共下跌了40%以上。但除了涉及理查德·尼克松總統的隱藏問題被一點、一點地揭示出來所造成的心理創傷,同樣起作用的還有一些經濟因素。通脹開始產生影響,部分原因是不斷惡化的中東石油危機;鋼材價格不斷上漲;這位共和黨總統還實行了工資和價格管制。實際上,1973年5月水門事件開始聽證,聽證會電視直播還成為了夏天的全國收視焦點,而當年11月就出現了經濟衰退。沒錯,70年代中期就是有這么多邁向悲慘世界的途徑。

1974年,杰拉爾德·福特在宣誓就職后說:“我們國家的長期噩夢結束了。”但在尼克松辭職后,美國仍然陷于衰退之中,它一直延續到了1975年3月,隨后是失業率的持續增長,無法控制的通脹以及70年代末急劇上升的利率。(迪斯科音樂隨后崛起,這多多少少和福特的話相悖。)實際上,1982年的牛市或許才是美國噩夢的真正終結,因為從那時起,美國經濟和股市才開始出現持續的正增長。

克林頓遭彈劾期間的股市

這和比爾·克林頓那場彈劾大戲期間的股市相比儼然是經濟上的“雙城記”——一個是最好的時代,另一個則是最糟的時代。70年代的狀況最為糟糕,最好的時代則是互聯網熱潮讓一些股市漲到了令人眩目的水平,而且維持了好幾年,直到2000年泡沫破裂。但在1998年下半年,金融市場顯然出現了一個緩和期,與之相伴的就是9月斯塔爾報告的出爐以及共和黨占多數的國會啟動彈劾程序。當時的一大未知數是將在11月到來的大選。

急于利用對比爾·克林頓的彈劾對共和黨產生了反作用,他們在中期選舉中丟失了5個眾議院席位。南希·佩洛西對這段歷史心知肚明,可以認為她一直到現在才登上民主黨的彈劾列車的原因就在這里。(人們經常忽略的一點是共和黨在彈劾克林頓的風波過后奪回了白宮,就像水門事件后的民主黨那樣。)在彈劾克林頓失敗后,股市很快重拾升勢,這也許是一個巧合,但很可能不是。讓成為新寵的互聯網股票在2000年跌落神壇的是它們未能奏效的“新典范”基本面,收入不重要,利潤也不重要。

為了評估彈劾調查對市場的影響,華爾街將關注67和88%這兩個數字。為了便于比較可以告訴大家,水門事件期間理查德·尼克松在共和黨內的支持率降到了54%。要重現這樣的局面,當前的政治格局必須發生重大變化,或者經濟狀況出現巨變。實際情況是,尼克松的支持率恰好在經濟就要陷入衰退時出現了暴跌。

華爾街關注華盛頓,而華盛頓也在關注華爾街。(財富中文網)

譯者:Charlie

審校:夏林

Wall Street loves numbers: earnings, P/E, ROI, overhead resistance, book value, market share, and discounted cash flow, just to name a few. But as the House prepares to move forward with an impeachment inquiry of the president, Wall Street is watching two numbers: 67, and 88%. The former is the number of U.S. Senators who would have to vote to remove President Trump from office if he is impeached by the House. And 88% is Trump’s current approval level within the GOP. Until that number changes, it’s unlikely the Senate would find 20 Republican Senators to join 47 who caucus with the Democrats.

That may explain why the stock market went up the day after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced plans for a formal impeachment inquiry. Professional investors chose to focus more on the possible easing of trade tensions with China, as well as a trade deal with Japan that will help American farmers. That’s the history of the stock market and impeachment efforts. Investors ignore the politics unless and until those actions affect the bottom line.

While Congress has never removed a sitting president from office in its previous three inquiries, that statistic might need an asterisk since Richard Nixon stepped down before he most certainly would have been impeached and removed from office by a Democratically-led Congress, as Republicans gave up defending a president whose popularity had dipped below 30%. Since Andrew Johnson’s impeachment preceded the Dow Jones Industrials Index by almost 30 years, we’ll stay in the modern era with the two relevant comparisons: Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

There’s no question that the Watergate era stock market was ugly. From top to bottom in the early to mid-70s, the DOW Industrials fell more than 40%. But aside from the psychological pain of the drip, drip, drip of cover up evidence being revealed involving President Richard Nixon, there were economic issues at work as well. Inflation was starting to take hold, pushed in part by the burgeoning Middle East oil crisis; steel prices were going up; and wage and price controls were imposed by a Republican president. In fact, while the televised Watergate hearings began in May of 1973—mesmerizing a nation’s summer viewing—a recession began in November of that same year. Yes, there were many ways to be miserable back in the mid-70s.

“Our long national nightmare is over,” Gerald Ford said after taking the oath of office in 1974. But America was still in recession after Nixon’s resignation—it lasted until March of 1975—and was followed by a continuing rise in unemployment, rampant inflation, and zooming interest rates into the late 70s. (That was followed by the rise of disco music, which may or may not have contradicted Ford’s statement.) In fact, the bull market of 1982 might have been the actual end of the national nightmare, because it was then that the economy and stock market started moving in a sustained positive direction.

The stock market during Clinton’s impeachment

Compare that with the market during Bill Clinton’s impeachment saga, and you get the tale of two economies. The best of times and the worst of times. The worst being the 70s dynamics, and the best being the dot.com boom that drove some stock market prices to dizzying levels for several years before their eventual bust in 2000. But there was a clear lull in the financial markets in the second half of 1998. It coincided with the release of the Starr report in September and impeachment proceedings initiated by a Republican Congress. The great unknown was the impending November election.

The drive to capitalize on Bill Clinton’s impeachment backfired on the GOP in the midterms as they lost 5 seats in the House. Nancy Pelosi is fully aware of that history, which is presumably why she delayed getting on board the Democratic impeachment train until now. (It’s often ignored that Republicans took back the White House the next election, as Democrats did following Watergate.) It might have been a coincidence that the stock market started back on track shortly after the failed attempt to remove Clinton from office, but probably not. It was only the failed “new paradigm” fundamentals of the new-fangled dot.com stocks – revenue doesn’t matter; earnings don’t matter– that brought them back to earth in 2000.

To assess the impact of the impeachment inquiry on the markets, Wall Street will be watching 67, and 88%. For comparison’s sake, Richard Nixon’s support within the GOP fell to 54% during Watergate. There would have to be a huge shift in the current political landscape for that to happen now. Or perhaps a huge shift in the economic landscape. The fact is, Nixon’s support collapsed just the economy was heading into recession.

As Wall Street watches Washington, Washington will be watching Wall Street as well.

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