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Trump or Clinton: what will it mean for the economy?

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is leading Republican Donald Trump in opinion polls, though her edge over the billionaire has narrowed.

What might the outcome, as well as all of the heated political rhetoric, mean for the global economy and financial markets? Are concerns mounting among investors? Is it time for investors to re-adjust portfolio allocations?

Chris Wallis, CEO and portfolio manager, Vaughan Nelson Investment Management

If you look back at US presidential history over 180 years, you will see that the elected president has never really had a big impact on the financial markets.

In the longer run - past the short-term market blip that can occur with an election surprise - the president's policy choices have been pretty irrelevant to financial market performance.

History also shows that the average volatility in the market today is about the same as it was in the early 1800s, the mid-1800s, the late 1800s, the early 1900s, the mid-1900s, the postwar period ... and so on.

Again, US presidents don't typically drive financial markets. This is really hard for people to grasp, because they believe these elections every four years are extremely important and have a dramatic impact on all aspects of their lives. But, again, when it comes to the markets, history proves otherwise.

Whether it's Clinton or Trump, I'm reasonably bullish we're going to get some productive fiscal policy that will stimulate economic growth in the US. It doesn't take much to be productive - at the end of the day, no politician gets re-elected unless the economy is growing.

This election year continues to be quite entertaining and great for the networks and media. But for the markets, I just don't think it matters. I tell people to ignore it but it's going to be really tough to ignore.

David Lafferty, chief market strategist, Natixis Global Asset Management

When we speak to investors both in and outside the US, the presidential election is almost always the No. 1 question on their minds.

Our first caveat is to remind investors that proposal differences pre-election are always bigger than implementation differences post-election; divided government ensures that presidents get only a small portion of what they want.

In general, this means that investors tend to put too much weight on election outcomes vis-A -vis portfolio expectations. Guessing whether Clinton will be bad for healthcare stocks or Trump will be good for defence/military stocks is a poor way to build a portfolio

Second, there is still time to go. Due to the Electoral College math and superior fundraising and organisation, Clinton seems the odds-on favorite to win.

For sport, we'll continue to handicap the outcome like everyone else but if Brexit has taught us one thing it's that betting on the conventional wisdom can be dangerous. With too many variables still unknown, including the election winner, the make-up of Congress and how proposals will morph into policy, long-term market implications are uncertain.

To be sure, neither candidate has presented a convincing pro-growth policy that would boost economic activity or the equity markets.

Regardless of the winner, Washington gridlock is unlikely to produce major policy changes, although some modest corporate tax reform is possible. While long-run return implications are uncertain, we still believe that Trump's newcomer status and lack of policy history would make him the source of more short-term volatility.

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Steph Nash was a staff writer at Money until 2017.
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