Can we have another good year in 2020? Is there room to run?
Before we say yes, I think predicting the stock market is a little like predicting the outcome of a football season. You look at the schedule of games, you make notations about opponents and then, in the back of your mind you keep thinking of one thing: The game is played with this bizarre oblong ball that tends to bounce in different ways and doesn't always -- if ever -- do what you expect.
That's how I feel about 2020.
Sometimes, when I feel adrift about the football concept and what it can mean for the year, I go to risk experts. No not the Wall Street kind. The insurance kind. The insurers who write for all sorts of bizarre risks that are out there, the types that can really upend your life, a veritable corner blitz sack.
What do they come back to me with in unison? Take some Elizabeth Warren insurance. Just take some. Don't hesitate. If you don't take it, at least keep a highly unusual amount of cash in your hands. Why, I ask, do they fear her so? The underwriters laughed: Because she's not a capitalist, they said. She's simply a powerful redistributionist, a veritable Robin Hood that will go after the rich to give to the poor.
I argued vociferously with one of them saying that Warren has already changed her mind on one divisive issue: single-payor health care. She still favors it, but it has become a third-year priority which often means no priority at all.
The response: Look at the way she treated Tim Sloan, the former CEO of Wells Fargo (WFC) , when he was doing his best to clean things up at the bank, things that the external investigators said he had little-to-nothing to do with. Look at how she didn't bother to do her homework, attacking someone wealthy like Lee Cooperman who has spent an incredible amount of time and money helping the impoverished, those who wouldn't have had a chance without him. Why, they, ask doesn't she go after the Silicon Valley types who don't' know charity from shinola?
I come back and say that if you pay less attention to her tweets and more to her actual core values, she wants a stronger America that can lead morally and financially -- even if I disagree with her on her wealth tax.
But lurking beneath all the worry? A belief that somehow she is like Lenin -- yes, I keep hearing that and not just because I used to look like him pre-buzz cut. I think she wants to turn the clock back to when CEOs made less and rank and file made more and she just lacks the tools to do so. They think she will simply expropriate, period, end of story.
Why is this bouncing football so important? Simple: Because if you want to know if there is room for the bull to run, and why, you need to know who is going to be president. People seem to forget that even without a stock market champion in the White House -- and here I am talking about President Obama -- you can still have a good run, although his market started from a ridiculously low level. Still, we forgot that he brought in pretty traditional money men to turn things around. Anyone other than Warren or Sanders is the equivalent of an Obama-type who would be neutral for stocks. Neutral is a tie, and to switch sports metaphors, a tie goes to the runner and the runner is the bull.
I can do multiple analyses of where stocks can go under the current regime -- or under, say, a Biden regime -- because I can predict how companies are going to do with a degree of certainty that, candidly, many lack.
But the Warren wild card? She will decide if the bull has room to run, or, more pointedly, the electorate will, and if she is chosen I am with my insurance friends, get some cash as insurance. After watching the attacks on people like Cooperman and good people like him, I can tell you being rich will be no place to be.