Friday, December 26, 2008

When Politics Dominates the Investment Landscape

... it's time to hide.

My financial guru turned me on to this piece in the Wall Street Journal. It's worth reading in its entirety, but here's a good tidbit.

The federal government's alternating takeovers and bailouts of companies are inherently destabilizing and create massive uncertainty in investors and businesses. The Fed's shocking steps to print money and acquire every kind of private asset and, soon perhaps, washing machines and Chevy Tahoes, may in retrospect be seen as just the right medicine. At the moment, no rational investor or business manager looks upon such doings with confidence in our economic future ...

Our point here is that the bad policy vicious circle probably has a long way to run. While it's still possible to entertain wild hopes about an Obama administration, such hopes are partly self-liquidating on closer inspection -- they exist in the first place only because Mr. Obama has given us so little to go on, except campaign boilerplate.

Bottom line: Politics is in charge -- in a way that makes a lost decade of subpar prosperity more likely than not.
When lobbyists and legislators are the engine of the economy, how can you make rational investment decisions? Obama might be the worst of all possible choices to be president in such an environment as he has no team of known quantities with him. Instead, he has a patchwork cabinet and circle of advisors with no single, coherent theme and no joint track record upon which to base decisions. Couple that with his own inexperience and you've got the makings of a chaotic feeding frenzy in Washington.

With $1T worth of blood in the water, it's anybody's guess as to how this might all shake out. Young Mr. Obama is about to go swimming with the sharks.

$1T is a lot of chum. Do you suppose there will be an orderly discussion of how it will be, err, invested?

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