President-elect Biden has been rolling out his picks for top cabinet positions, and it seems to me so far that they are just what America wanted.
If you step back and look at how the country votes for president each time, there's a certain logic to it. Eight years of George W. Bush (Iraq war, financial crisis) was answered with eight years of Barack Obama (hope and change). Eight years of Obama (globalist, liberal) ushered in four years of Trump (make America great again). And four years of Trump (populist, wildly unpredictable) is now answered with at least four years of Biden, who I'd argue is largely a vote for calm and cooperation--for "boring," you could even say.
A Biden vote could have meant a lot of different things; a "blue sweep" Biden vote that swept Democrats to control of Congress and swelled the ranks of the progressives would obviously be a very different kind of vote than the one we got--which gave Biden the presidency but saw the Democrats lose seats in the House and will possibly keep Republicans in control of the Senate. The outcome we got pretty much guarantees not much is going to happen in Congress for the next couple years, aside from projects like the next Covid relief bill that have a large enough consensus.
It's almost like America voted, after four years glued to political news, to turn it off for awhile. A couple more months to get through this whole presidential transition period and we might even be back to car chases and kidnappings on daytime TV.
You could see markets exhale on these "good-kind-of-gridlock" election results almost immediately; stocks are having their best month in decades, boosted by that and all the positive vaccine news we've had the past several weeks. The Dow is up nearly 12%--its best month since January 1987, if we hold above roughly 29,400. (We're just 40 points shy of crossing 30,000 for the first time as I write this.) The S&P is up nearly 10%, the Nasdaq up 9%, and the small-cap Russell 2000 is up more than 18%.
And you have to give the president-elect credit for sensing the mood of the country with his cabinet picks thus far. While progressive groups wanted Elizabeth Warren as Treasury Secretary, Biden is going instead with former Fed President Janet Yellen--one of the most widely respected, least contentious policy makers available. His choice for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is seen as a global alliance-builder. It's all very kum-ba-yah.
Whether it's effective, of course, remains to be seen. If Americans like what they get, they'll keep D.C. as purple as it currently is. If Biden isn't liberal enough, they'll make it bluer. If he's too liberal, or if voters ultimately reject his reemerging globalism, they could bring Trump, or at least his "MAGA" politics, back again.
Now, before this all sounds too kum-ba-yah, I should mention that behind all of it lies one lurking concern: China. We're stuck in a damned-if-we-do business with them, damned-if-we-don't situation. It seems to me they already have far too much sway in what should be our affairs; dictating what American companies can say about Taiwan, spying on Chinese students in this country, pressuring pro basketball players into silence, etc.
And I could see the next administration going one of two ways on China; either using "global alliances" to more effectively counterweight China's influence, or being blunted by such groups into fecklessness. If it's the latter, four years before voters can express their displeasure with a change of approach could be precious time to waste.
See you at 1 p.m!