July 19, 2024

Political Turmoil Clouds Market Outlook Amid Biden Uncertainty

The political landscape is fraught with uncertainty as President Joe Biden’s future as the Democratic nominee hangs in the balance following a lackluster performance in the June 27 television debate. Despite Biden’s firm assertion in a recent ABC News interview that he remains committed to the race, speculation abounds regarding his potential withdrawal. Congressional Democrats and influential donors have been vocal in urging Biden to reconsider his candidacy, highlighting the growing unease within the party.

Market reactions to this political uncertainty have been mixed. While stock market investors have largely remained unfazed, the bond market has shown signs of strain, particularly with the possibility of a Donald Trump resurgence. The prospect of Trump reclaiming the White House, coupled with a Republican-controlled Congress, has led to concerns about the extension of tax cuts and other measures that could ignite inflation.

Christopher Smart, managing director at the Arbroath Group, notes the significant uncertainty surrounding the political future. “Financial markets are closely monitoring betting markets and initial polling data,” he told MarketWatch. The RealClearPolitics average of major polls reveals a growing lead for Trump over Biden, now at 3.3 percentage points compared to 1.5 points before the debate.

A potential Trump victory, alongside Republican control of Congress, raises the specter of higher tariffs, wider deficits, and reduced immigration. Even if Trump fails to fulfill his most extreme campaign promises, the anticipated direction could spur inflation and prompt the Federal Reserve to reconsider its stance on interest rate cuts next year. The bond market has already reacted, with yields on long-term U.S. government debt climbing to one-month highs following the debate. The 10-year and 30-year yields rose by 19.1 and 21.6 basis points respectively from June 28 to July 1, reflecting investor anxiety.

Despite the political turbulence, the S&P 500 continues to perform robustly, achieving its 34th record close of 2024 on the back of a cooling labor market indicated by the June jobs report. This has bolstered expectations that the Federal Reserve might cut interest rates as early as September.

Amidst the uncertainty surrounding Biden’s candidacy, Vice President Kamala Harris is often seen as the most likely replacement. However, Biden stepping aside raises further questions about his ability to continue serving as president. Rob Casey, a partner at Signum Global Advisors, underscores the broader implications for market stability. “The pressing concern is whether Biden would face significant pressure to resign the presidency, a scenario that could unsettle markets significantly,” Casey remarked.

Terry Haines, founder of Pangaea Policy, advises caution against overreliance on election outcome predictions. He likens prediction markets to “funhouse mirrors,” emphasizing their lack of correlation with actual political odds, especially given the complexities of the Electoral College. Haines warns investors to brace for potential volatility. “The precarious Biden situation presents no upside for markets, and any changes could precipitate sudden and significant market downturns,” he stated.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Political Uncertainty: President Biden’s uncertain political future is causing concern among Democrats and market analysts.
  2. Market Reactions: The stock market remains stable, while the bond market shows signs of strain amidst the political turmoil.
  3. Polls and Predictions: Trump’s lead over Biden has widened, raising the stakes for potential inflationary policies under a possible Trump administration.
  4. Federal Reserve Watch: Economic indicators suggest potential interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve in response to a cooling labor market.
  5. Potential Successors: Vice President Kamala Harris is the most likely candidate to replace Biden if he steps aside, but this raises further questions about market stability.
  6. Investor Caution: Analysts warn investors to prepare for bouts of volatility due to the unpredictable political landscape.


The current political climate, marked by President Biden’s uncertain future and the potential resurgence of Donald Trump, casts a shadow over market stability. While the stock market shows resilience, the bond market’s reaction underscores the underlying anxiety. Investors are advised to remain vigilant and prepared for potential volatility as the political narrative unfolds. The interplay between political developments and market reactions will be critical in shaping the economic landscape in the coming months.


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