Shockingly Mellow Election Numbers
- A pox on both houses: Major-party voter turnout down from 2012 and 2008
- In at least three states, voters more motivated by pot than the presidency
- Why the big catalyst for “penny pot stocks” is still weeks away
- If interest rates are rising (and they are), why aren’t dividend stocks tanking?
- Your government in action: $85 million luxury hotel still not ready for guests
- An EMP emendation… the real cost of Thanksgiving dinner… how to really do Turkey Day on the cheap… and more!
It seems more people feel as if they have a stake in marijuana legalization than the presidential race. Or so we’d conclude from a cursory glance at this year’s election returns.
We started looking into some election oddities last week. We thought we’d share a few of them today. One of them points to a significant profit opportunity starting only 41 days from now.
The most interesting takeaway from 2016 is the rejection of the major party candidates compared with the previous two election cycles.
In 2008, a total of 129.3 million Americans voted for either Barack Obama or John McCain. In 2012, a total of 126.8 million Americans voted for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. This year, the number of Americans voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is estimated to be 124.6 million. (We say “estimated” because improbably, votes are still being counted in a few precincts here and there. Not enough to swing the Electoral College, but still…)
Here’s what it looks like on a chart…
Note also that Trump’s total won’t be meaningfully higher than Romney’s in 2012. So much for the conventional wisdom that Trump won thanks to an uprising of the disaffected (or even sillier, a surge of “white nationalism”). No, the story is an utter collapse of support for the Democrats’ nominee despite all those confident predictions she had it in the bag because of demographics. And the exit polls bear that out: Legions of women and people of color stayed home this year.
And then there’s the number of people who did show up to vote… and turned their backs on both Trump and Clinton. Either they voted third-party, or they left the presidential part of their ballots blank.
Which brings us back to marijuana legalization: Look at the vote totals in California for the major-party presidential candidates… and for the marijuana ballot measure, Proposition 64:
We did the math for you: Nearly 700,000 Californians cast a vote one way or another on Prop 64… and did not vote for either Trump or Clinton.
We highlight California simply because the population is so large and the state is such a trendsetter. The numbers elsewhere are even more interesting.
In Nevada, marijuana legalization got more votes than Clinton… and Clinton won the state!
Then there’s Arizona, the only one of nine states where a marijuana ballot measure was defeated. The number of people who voted against Proposition 205 was higher than the number of people who voted for Trump — who won the state. And the number of “yes” votes was higher than the vote total for Clinton.
We’re hard-pressed to say why more people voted on the pot referenda than the presidency. Maybe people feel as if they have more say on a ballot measure than on a distant ruler in Washington. They might well be right…
While marijuana ballot measures passed in eight states… it’s not too late to seize on “penny pot stocks” for maximum gains.
True, one of Ray Blanco’s cannabis biotech picks in Technology Profits Confidential is up 40% since Election Day. But history shows some of the most explosive moves come when the laws take effect. And Nevada’s not waiting around: As of Jan. 1, adults 21 and older can legally possess and consume up to one ounce of weed.
Colorado’s trailblazing marijuana legalization took effect on Jan. 1, 2014. It took only weeks for several weed-themed names to soar higher than Harold and Kumar binging on White Castles. Here’s one…
Meanwhile, Fusion Pharm turned in a 2,268% gain in less than two months… and Novus Acquisition and Development exploded 3,540% in three months. There were still others that turned in performances equally impressive.
Going into 2017, there are roughly 350 publicly traded pot stocks. They won’t all perform that well. In fact only a handful are likely to take off. But Ray Blanco has sifted through all of them to identify the best of breed. And because they’re “penny pot stocks,” you don’t have to invest a small fortune to make a big one. Just $50 can get you started. Check out Ray’s updated post-election research right here.
The major U.S. stock indexes are all slightly in the green as a new week begins. The Dow is back above the 18,900 level. Treasury yields are backing down, the 10-year at 2.32%. Gold is up a touch at $1,214.
Once again, the thrills-’n’-chills are in crude — up more than 2.5% as we write and pushing $47. We’re now nine days away from OPEC’s twice-a-year meeting and oil prices are yo-yoing as the rumor mill churns out chatter of a production cut, or not.
Energy, meanwhile, is the sector where we’re getting word of the first post-election merger-and-acquisition activity. Sunoco Logistics is buying Energy Transfer Partners in an all-stock deal. Both companies are involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline — the subject of much protest in North Dakota. The Street is unimpressed; shares of both companies are down about 10%.
The only economic number of the day is the Chicago Fed National Activity Index — noteworthy because it has a history of calling recessions accurately. The latest number, while sub-par, is nowhere near recession territory.
It’s one of Wall Street’s post-election mysteries — why dividend-paying stocks are performing even better than the stock market as a whole.
“Under normal circumstances, dividend stocks typically move in the opposite direction of interest rates,” says our income specialist Zach Scheidt. When rates are rising, he explains, “income investors have an incentive to move their money out of dividend stocks and into higher-yielding Treasury bonds and savings accounts.”
As we’ve been chronicling, interest rates are zooming up; the 10-year Treasury note was at 1.86% on Election Day and is nearly half a percentage point higher now. It’s all about the widespread expectation of “Trumpflation” — that the new president’s spending plans will bust the budget and rekindle inflation.
But a funny thing’s happening now. Dividend payers are not only hanging in there; they’re spanking the broad market.
“I think a big part of the strength for dividend stocks comes from another Trump policy expectation,” Zach wrote his Lifetime Income Report subscribers last week.
It comes back to something we’ve been writing about for months — corporate tax reform. Under America’s crazy-quilt tax laws, big U.S. companies have parked as much as $2.5 trillion in offshore tax havens. There’s momentum in both parties to encourage those companies to “bring the money home.”
“During his campaign,” says Zach, “Trump laid out a proposed tax plan that would reduce the tax corporations pay when ‘repatriating’ cash. According to the plan, the U.S. would tax businesses 10% on this foreign-held cash, instead of the corporations’ standard 35% tax rate.”
No guarantees, of course. But not only does the president-elect’s party control both houses of Congress, we’ve documented previously how the incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is eager to get corporate tax reform done.
Once a deal’s in place, “companies will be flush with cash that has been brought back to the U.S,” Zach goes on. “And these are mature companies whose shareholders expect to receive excess cash to pay dividends on a regular basis.”
From the people who brought you the $43 million gas station in Afghanistan comes a boondoggle nearly twice as expensive…
Every six months, it seems, the government’s Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction delivers a new and even more shocking account of how Uncle Sam is frittering away taxpayer dollars on America’s longest war. A year ago, it was a $43 million natural-gas filling station that should have cost $500,000. Six months ago, it was an $86 million spy plane to combat the Afghan drug trade; it never got to the point where it could actually fly.
Now it’s a five-star hotel and apartment complex across the street from the U.S. embassy in Kabul. Begun in 2004, the project remains unfinished and unused. “As a result,” writes Special Inspector General John Sopko, “the $85 million in loans is gone, the buildings were never completed and are uninhabitable, and the U.S. Embassy is now forced to provide security for the site at additional cost to U.S. taxpayers.”
And no, no one’s been fired…
“That is a blatantly incorrect statement,” a reader writes after we declared that electromagnetic pulses are “a pseudoscientific fantasy, the right wing’s version of climate change.
“EMP is a well-known and well-researched side effect of nuclear explosions, and the U.S. military spends oodles of dollars protecting their communications and computer systems against it. If it is a fantasy, it is a ‘pseudopolitical fantasy’ that may never come true, but it is a scientific fact.”
The 5: OK, we should have chosen our words more carefully. (We also heard from a colleague we respect who was rather taken aback.)
We were working off memory of an article by Jeffrey Lewis at Foreign Policy in 2013. He said the physical phenomenon is indeed real but, as he later put it, “the severity of an attack is often presented in nearly apocalyptic terms that are simply not supported by the available data.” We were also working off memory of an interview a few years back with the nuclear physicist Gordon Prather, the gist of which was, “If a nuke explodes in an EMP attack, you’ll have a lot more to worry about than the grid going down.”
We heard from many readers about the real cost of Thanksgiving dinner… and for the most part, it’s much more than the $49.87 for a family of 10, as calculated by the American Farm Bureau.
“In my case,” says one, “a turkey dinner for a family of eight is around $125 — and no luxury.”
“Ten guests,” says another — “turkey, gravy, green bean plate, garlic mashed potatoes, ham, cranberry sauce, juices, three pies, cheeses and crackers, three bottles of wine for $350, give or take.”
Ah, don’t forget the libations. “Each of the six bottles of pinot I will open will cost more than $50,” writes a third. “Who are they kidding?” And a fourth: “The price of Tanqueray, Budweiser and Jack Daniels is killing me.”
“We do a prime rib, bone in,” says a fifth. “Looking into a precooked this year. One place wanted $35 per pound. At 1 pound per person, 18 people. I laughed so hard.”
“Out here in sunny Orange County, California,” writes a sixth, “a Turkey dinner for six people to go with all the fixings can be picked up for $175-plus-plus.
“The plus-plus refers to 18% gratuity and 8% sales tax. Yes, it is coming from our country club, but good luck getting it all for $50 at a local grocery store. I assume the Farm Bureau is referring to a Monsanto-laced GMO special Thanksgiving dinner that glows under a black light.
“Keep up the great work, 5.”
On the other hand, “I estimate our cost for thanksgiving dinner to be around $35,” a reader writes.
“$15 for a state-issued wild turkey tag, around $2.00 a shell for the one and only shot I took. Carrots potatoes squash and onions came from barter of some small electrical services to a local farmer. Will have to buy some flour and a roasting bag and butter. There you have it. Locally grown and harvested.”
“After years of raising children and hosting Thanksgiving dinner, my wife and I now pay zero!” writes our final correspondent.
“We go to the kids’ house(s) and sponge off them… sort of like Social Security. Yeah, we paid our dues in both cases, so now it’s our turn to reap some benefits. Oh, we actually still do ‘pay’ something in that we all bring something for the feast, but Thanksgiving is my son-in-law’s favorite holiday, so he even does most of the cooking!
“But WHAT a great occasion to get together and reflect back on all the blessings we have all enjoyed. After all, it’s all about family, by blood, choice or circumstance.”
The 5: Well said.
The 5 Min. Forecast
P.S. Investors who wait years and even decades to see big gains in stocks are chumps.
At least, that’s what controversial trader Michael Covel says.
You might not like what he has to say…