Roger Altman: Too-Close-to-Call Election Result Would Punish Markets

Monday, 05 Nov 2012 09:38 AM

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A repeat performance of the too-close-to-call result that roiled the 2000 presidential elections could punish markets, though otherwise, expect investors to largely take Tuesday’s results in stride, said Roger Altman, chairman at Evercore Partners and former Deputy Treasury Secretary.

President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney are neck and neck in the polls, and even if it takes a day to find out who won after Tuesday’s elections, markets would remain patient and calm.

However, prolonged uncertainty and fears of a recount would be damaging.

Editor's Note: See the Disturbing Charts: 50% Unemployment, 90% Stock Market Crash, 100% Inflation

“That would be bad for markets, which we all know don’t like uncertainty,” Altman told CNBC.

“A prolonged no-decision, I think, would be adverse for markets.

In 2004, the race came down the wire and Democratic candidate John Kerry waited to concede defeat to then-President George W. Bush the day after elections.

“Twenty-four hours — that doesn’t make much difference. In 2004, the result took until the next morning. I don’t believe that John Kerry conceded until 11:00 or 12:00 the next day. That wouldn’t be much, but a prolonged 2000 scenario would be negative.”

In the 2000 election between George W. Bush and then-Vice President Al Gore, the election was Nov. 7, but Gore didn't concede until Dec. 13, after the Supreme Court essentially stopped a recount of votes in Florida.

Many odds makers have Obama winning re-election, including Intrade and New York Times blogger Nate Silver.

Some analysts have pointed out that a Romney victory would be more bullish for stocks by fueling sentiment that taxes will fall and regulations such as the president’s Affordable Care Act would be dismantled.

But don’t expect an Obama victory to spark a sell-off either.

“In my experience there are very few election results which surprise markets and so I would be surprised if the markets were surprised,” Altman also told the network.

“So my two cents is that if this data is correct and if Obama ekes out a narrow victory, the markets will take it in stride — there will be very little effect.”

Other market observers say no matter who wins, the market reaction will be muted.

“I think the market has priced in an Obama victory, but no matter what, any knee-jerk reaction after the election will unwind over the next few days,” Joseph Tanious, a global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds in New York, told Reuters.

Editor's Note: See the Disturbing Charts: 50% Unemployment, 90% Stock Market Crash, 100% Inflation

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