PhillyDeals: What a Romney win may mean for the market

Posted: August 31, 2012

Mitt Romney and the Republicans down in Tampa are selling hope.

He'll win if he can persuade enough voters that he'll make things better: more jobs for young people, so they can stop cramming into apartments and buy homes and have kids and put builders back to work; less taxes and fewer environmental rules for businesses, so they can choose to grow; less costly public funding for health care and retirement.

Polling of professional investors by SEI Corp., based in Oaks, and Brinker Capital, of King of Prussia, found that they heavily favor Romney. It's not like 2008, when Wall Street gave so hugely to Barack Obama.

But don't expect the stock market, that meter of economic health and personal wealth, to come roaring right back if the GOP sweeps Washington in November.

After Ronald Reagan's business-backed 1980 election, stocks fell for most of the next two years as unemployment rose, government orders slumped, and interest rates stayed high. The rally came later.

This time, "No matter who is elected, they will be forced to deal with the United States' excess-debt situation," and that's no quick turnaround, says Jason Pride, director of investment strategy at Center City-based Glenmede Trust Co., which manages investments worth $21 billion.

We can't keep spending so much more than we take in, the economists warn. November offers, in theory, this choice:

President Obama would boost federal tax rates (currently the lowest since the 1970s), especially for the rich, to pay for more public services, starting with health care.

Romney, instead, would cut federal spending, three-quarters of which goes for health care, retirement, and war.

Pride is glad this long-overdue argument is out in the open in this campaign.

No matter the winner, current law calls for tax cuts instituted in the era of President George W. Bush to expire and automatic federal spending cuts to take effect at year's end - throwing the economy back into recession, according to the Congressional Budget Office - unless Congress changes the plan.

"Which will make for a nail-biter December," said Pride.

"Ultimately, we're going to deal with this," Pride said of the economic challenges. Maybe it won't be a "grand plan" or long-term solution. "It may be more a situation of fits and starts," he said. "Every year, every 18 months, we'll pass a part of the solution. We won't take all the heat up front. We'll have extensions, and partial solutions."

Isn't that what we've been doing already? Doesn't that mean more uncertainty about taxes, making business reluctant to expand?

"That's the strength of the Romney- [Paul] Ryan argument, that the more you take uncertainty out, the more you will get a lift in overall activity," said Pride.

If investors think that's where we're headed, won't stock prices soar on a GOP win?

Not much, and not for long, Pride predicts. The likely staying power of a "sentimental" recovery based on mere election results "is very little."

America needs a better diet, not just a caffeine buzz.

Searching

Google Inc. has hired investment bankers at Barclays Plc to sell its Horsham-based Motorola Home unit, Bloomberg L.P. reported Wednesday.

"We don't comment on rumor and speculation," Google spokesman Jim Prosser told me.

The Motorola Home unit used to employ about 1,000 engineers, salespeople, and management staff to develop and build video equipment for Comcast and other customers. Google, which bought the business when it acquired Motorola's mobile phone unit and switched its bosses, won't say how many are left.

Analysts have estimated Motorola Home's value at about $2 billion. Potential buyers for all or part of the business include Pace Plc, Juniper Networks Inc., and Ericsson AB, with China-based buyers less likely, Jeff Baumgartner said in Light Reading Cable earlier this month.


Contact Joseph N. DiStefano at 215-854-5194, JoeD@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @PhillyJoeD.

 

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