Whether you are an Obama fan or an Obama opponent, if he becomes the next President of the United States his policies will have an affect on the financial markets both domestically and internationally. He wants to bring change to the United States which by extension means world markets because we have such a huge economic foot print.
So, what do you need to think about with an Obama Presidency regarding how you structure your investment portfolios both taxable and 401(k)/IRA, etc.?
1.Taxes Matter: We dont yet know the details of how he will handle taxes on dividend income and capital gains. It is clear that at least some of the investing population will see an increase in taxes on those forms of investment returns. If you pay a 20% rate on capital gains that means you will have 20% less money being reinvested to grow and get the affect of compounding. Dividend rates could go up as high as 35% and that will really kill the benefit of dividend paying stocks. So, one can use tax free bonds for at least a portion of the fixed income portion of a portfolio. Second, you should make sure you are having your investment advisor use tax management in the investment and management of your portfolio. Tax managed passive mutual funds have an extremely low tax impact.
2.Capital Markets Work: There will be those gurus who will tell you they know which sectors or industries will boom under Obama and which will tank. Academic studies have shown over and over again that such attempts to combine stock picking with a market timing element almost never outperform the broad market (in fact they generally under perform) and when they do it is usually nothing more than luck and is thus not repeatable. Markets are essentially efficient and any attempt to regulate trade or change tax policy will end up being priced into the securities as soon as the information hits the wires.
3.Diversification is Key: The way to consistently win under an Obama Presidency is to hold very broadly diversified, global, low cost, asset class mutual funds. Diversification reduces uncertainty. If you hold a mutual fund of US securities with about 3500 stocks in it and one of them happens to be a Bear Stearns or Lehman Brothers, it will hardly make a blip in your portfolio as it goes out of existence. Dont be caught with concentrated position mutual funds or with individual securities. You will be carrying too much risk that you can diversify your way out of.
4.Risk and Return are Related: Exposure to meaningful risk factors in a diversified portfolio determines expected return. Over the long haul, stocks outperform bonds but not always; over the long haul small stocks outperform large stocks, but not always; over the long haul value stocks outperform growth stocks, but not always. Each of these outperformers has a greater volatility risk and a greater expected return.
5.Portfolio Structure Explains Performance: Asset allocation along size, value, and market exposure dimensions primarily determines the results of a broadly diversified portfolio. In other words, to increase the expected return of your portfolio under an Obama Presidency, own low cost, globally diversified asset class mutual funds that are over weighted to smaller and more value oriented stocks. If an all stock fund portfolio is too volatile for you, add some short term bond funds to damper the volatility.
Following academically sound investment principles will allow you to win the losers game during an Obama Presidency. Dont give in to the Wall Street marketing gurus who have proven their ability to separate you from your money, quickly and permanently.