Perhaps the only event more surprising than President Donald Trump’s unexpected victory last November was how investors have reacted. Prior to the election, analysts had predicted a huge sell-off on Wall Street in the event of a Trump win—one memorable prognostication foresaw a 50% drop in the stock market.
But the narrative changed overnight. Stocks quickly rose in the aftermath of Trump’s victory and have surged 10% since Election Day thanks to what’s been called the “Trump Bump.” Investors, buoyed by the prospect of total Republican control of the federal government, began pricing in the prospects of many of Trump’s promises—including infrastructure and defense spending; tax cuts for corporations; deregulation; and the first real effort at comprehensive tax reform in a generation.
Again, though, the narrative is changing. Stocks are down more than 2% over the past months as the Trump administration failed to deliver on its promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, raising questions about its ability to deliver on other promises. Now, investors don’t quite know how to react.
MONEY spoke with five different people in the investment banking world, for their perspectives on the President’s first 100 days. Here’s what they said.
Name: Jeannette Bajalia
Title: President of Petros Estate & Retirement Planning
Voted for: Trump
“I’d give the president a C+ as the jury is still out in terms of getting results. While his presidency has actually boosted consumer confidence, spending, market performance, etc., we haven’t seen any traction on lowering taxes or on the ACA (Affordable Care Act), which were two items his platform ran on. As a business owner, I’m looking for tax relief as well as affordable healthcare I can provide my employees.
I personally believe the market performance is simply an emotional reaction to change in general, and the possibility of hope for a new and more positive future than we’ve experienced in the past. The economy was improving even under the previous administration, which perhaps laid a good foundation for President Trump. So I’m not convinced the markets are performing because of his influence during the first 100 days.”
Name: Eric Hutchinson
Title: Managing Director of United Capital Financial Advisers
Voted for: Trump
“President Trump gets a B+. Since his election, the financial markets have responded favorably with record setting highs. Not everything has gone as smoothly as many might have wanted, but even the failure to repeal Obamacare was not enough to derail the positive trends in financial markets. For all the media frenzy on both sides, so far it appears that President Trump is attempting to deliver on his campaign promises, something not all politicians can boast.
President Trump is not a career politician. Many of the advisors and key appointees selected to serve in his administration are also not experienced politicians. They are however experienced in business, achieving levels of financial success that place many of them among America’s wealthiest individuals. They are doing things in government in a not-so-conventional way that appears to be disconcerting at times to some professional politicians. (But) shaking up the status quo does not appear to be such a bad thing after all.”
Name: Alex Merk
Title: Manager of the Merk Funds
Voted for: No comment
“Trump gets a D for bullying specific companies to keep jobs in the U.S. He gets a failing grade on this because interfering in specific business decisions rather than setting broad policy strokes is counter-productive, as any other business observing Trump’s behavior will be reluctant to invest, as they fear they might become victim of a Twitter attack.
Trump gets an F on his immigration policy. By threatening actions such as extreme vetting (including the inspection of laptops, mobile phones), potential entrepreneurs and other skilled employees may be sufficiently turned off that they may opt to deploy their skills in other countries. From an investor’s point of view, the U.S. needs to compete for the best talent in the world, not alienate it.
On defense, he gets a C. Increasing defense spending might be good for defense contractors. The reason he only gets a C is because — like his predecessors — he misses the point that the biggest threat to national security may well be the deficit. If entitlement spending is not brought under control, in a few years, we won’t be talking about killing Sesame Street’s Big Bird. It might be difficult to fund important priorities for the military.
On trade, it’s all but impossible to gauge what policy will be, as Trump’s rhetoric may not translate to policy. That said, we think a trade war could break out as a result of foreign policy. As a result, Trump gets a C on trade.”
Name: Brent M. Wilsey
Title: Owner of Wilsey Asset Management in San Diego
Voted for: No comment
“While Trump makes controversial statements and has weak approval ratings, he has put forth strategies that should benefit the economy. The two-main standout areas are deregulation and the corporate tax rate. While these topics have yet to be fully addressed, everyone needs to remember processes in D.C. can take some time. Deregulation and cutting the corporate tax would allow businesses time and capital to focus on improving their companies and help spur job growth.
One reason businesses are encouraged by Trump is his willingness to meet and discuss various matters. He has met with a number of business leaders across a variety of both size and industry to get their opinions on what needs to be done to create jobs and grow the economy. Their input is important since these are the individuals with the capabilities to create jobs. While Trump’s approval ratings remain weak, consumer sentiment and confidence have soared along with small business optimism.”
Name: Chris Orestis
Title: CEO of Life Care Funding
Voted for: Not Trump
“Grade F for the failed attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Inattention to details and lack of understanding of the plan, reliance on others to do the work, underestimating the amount of work and time for completion, quitting on the assignment after one attempt, and not getting along with the other kids on the playground.”