In the last decade, America's CEOs have had to deal with the global financial crisis, huge increases in regulation and political gridlock in Washington. And they were still able to send corporate profits to their highest proportion of gross domestic product for decades. History provides further context. The great economic flowering of the US took part in the late 19th century, a politically forgettable patch between the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. Donald Trump may be unappetising to some, but is he really going to be able to undo the economic and corporate fabric of America in the space of four years?
None of this is to diminish the high stakes at play in this election. For some investors, the thought of adding to risk in the aftermath of a Trump victory is simply too contrarian to stomach. For them, a portfolio built around solid foundations of repeatable carry and intrinsic return is a sensible and viable way to invest.
But for the more opportunistic investor, a Trump victory could provide a rare doorway to some solid economic and market fundamentals at compelling prices. Or to put it another way, just ask what it is that makes an investor cautious towards risk assets today. Is it a belief that the world is about to tip into recession and companies are becoming less profitable? Or is it the mere fact that markets are no longer cheap after seven years of largely unbroken progress?
Conventional thinking suggests that Hillary Clinton is the pro-market choice. But some investors may find themselves wishing for a Trump victory as the trigger for an overdue market shakeout. The real choice investors face ahead of this election is therefore between a low return, low volatility portfolio or one that is sufficiently imaginative to generate truly superior returns over time.
Julian Howard is head of multi-asset solutions at GAM.