Jim Lindgren over at the Volokh Conspiracy embarrasses himself by trying to decipher the market's response to Obama clinching the nomination:
At 1:23pm ET, an AP story was released, reporting that Hillary Clinton would concede tonight because Barack Obama has clinched the nomination. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which was at 12,493 and had been marking time for hours, immediately started dropping. In 9 minutes (1:32), it had dropped 72 points to 12,421. After another 23 minutes (1:55), it had fallen another 53 points, resulting in a 125 point drop in 32 minutes. It then stabilized, indeed rebounding a bit. This is not a particularly large drop (it's less than 1%), but the probable trigger was much clearer this time than for market responses to other primary wins and losses.I'll let Barry Ritholtz explain why this is so bonecrushingly stupid:
Ever since the Primary on Tuesday, the market's have aggressively sold off. This clearly indicates the equity market's fear of a McCain presidency. ... And, the stock market has sold off, therefore proving that McCain must be bad for stocks and for the economy. ... Of course, I don't believe a word of that. But you would be surprised as to how many otherwise intelligent people spew variations of this sort of nonsense everyday. I will unequivocally state that anytime you hear this sort of nonsense, you can rest assured that the speaker is a) an unabashed partisan; 2) relatively clueless about how market's operate; iii) never worked on a trading desk. Markets operate not as forecastors, but as discounting mechanisms. Consider what has to be discounted to credibly say this: First, we would need to know who is likely to win the next election, 8 months in the future. ... The next president gets sworn in on January 20, 2009. They have to put together a series of legislative proposals, then get them passed by Congress, then fund them. Then, they have to begin implementing them. The impact of these would likely be felt sometime around 2010. Hence, the utter absurdity of the short term market twitches somehow reflecting unknown possible events, and their likely macro impact, several years hence. Ridiculous. Consider these questions as the more likely stimuli this bloody market is actually responding to -- the nearer term events that are still unfolding today: -Are we in a recession or not? -Is the credit problem fixed yet? -How much worse will housing get? -Will earnings rebound in the second half of 2008? -Will the US dollar ever stop falling? -Are US deficits going to continue to skyrocket? -How much more will consumers pull back on their spending? -(Did I mention the housing picture is a disaster?) -The war in Iraq is God-awful expensive, is there any relief in sight? -Is Oil going to go to $150? -Can the wobbly banks regain their footing? -And how much more will inflation heat up? The markets have enough data to digest before they even remotely begin to consider who might be president in 2009, and what they might do.Could it be that instead of reacting to an AP story about whether Hillary will concede the nomination that everyone in the world knows she's already lost, the equity market was reacting to Ben Bernanke's surprising statements about the dollar, inflation, and weak growth? Nah. Better stick with the "stock market hates Obama" story.