The stock market reaction to the election was quite strange.
From the first debate through Tuesday, S&P 500 futures showed modest signs of believing that Trump was worse for the market than Clinton. This Wolfers and Zitzewitz study shows some of the relevant evidence.
On Tuesday evening, I followed the futures market and the prediction markets moderately closely, and it looked like there was a very clear correlation between those two markets, strongly suggesting the S&P 500 would be 6 to 8 percent lower under Trump than under Clinton. This correlation did not surprise me.
This morning, the S&P 500 prices said the market had been just kidding last night, and that Trump is neutral or slightly good for the market.
Part of this discrepancy is presumably due to the difference between regular trading hours and after hours trading. The clearest evidence for market dislike of Trump came from after hours trading, when the most sophisticated traders are off-duty. I’ve been vaguely aware that after hours markets are less efficiently priced. But this appears to involve at least a few hundred million dollars of potential profit, which somewhat stretches the limit of how inefficient the markets could plausibly be.
I see one report of Carl Icahn claiming
I thought it was absurd that the market, the S&P was down 100 points on Trump getting elected … but I couldn’t put more than about a billion dollars to work
I’m unclear what constrained him, but it sure looked like the market could have absorbed plenty more buying while I was watching (up to 10pm PST), so I’ll guess he was more constrained by something related to him being at a party.
But even if the best U.S. traders were too distracted to make the markets efficient, that leaves me puzzled about asian markets, which were down almost as much as the U.S. market during the middle of the asian day.
So it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the market either made a big irrational move, or was reacting to news whose importance I can’t recognize.
I don’t have a strong opinion on which of the market reactions was correct. My intuition says that a market decline of anywhere from 1% to 5% would have been sensible, and I’ve made a few trades reflecting that opinion. I expect that market reactions to news tend to get more rational over time, so I’m now giving a fair amount of weight to the possibility that Trump won’t affect stocks much.