The dust is starting to settle after the most expensive elections in U.S. history. According to the non-partisan Center on Responsive Politics, the total cost of the 2012 elections will come close to a staggering $6 billion—with about $2.5 billion of that expended on the race for the White House.
If you’re anything like me (a simple guy from Kansas), don’t you agree that it would have been better to have spent all that money on a nice down payment for building a flood wall in lower Manhattan? Whatever your views are on global warming, at least we could all point to something, well—concrete—that we accomplished together.
As a long-time resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I also can tell you that I’m very, very relieved that the onslaught of political television commercials should abate—at least temporarily. Two weeks ago, the Wesleyan Media Project reported that more than 915,000 presidential ads had aired on broadcast and national cable television since June 1—a 44.5% increase from the 637,000 ads aired during the same timeframe in 2008. And that was with two weeks left to go. I feel as if I’ve seen every one of those ads. If you live in a battleground state, you know that most have been negative (on all sides), which has contributed to bad feelings all around.
So enough venting already…it’s easy enough to feed into the rampant cynicism about the sorry state of our nation’s political discourse. Let’s instead talk briefly about what the results of the elections will mean for the investment advisory profession. And how can we move the ball forward—for your businesses and your clients—during the coming months and weeks?
In my last blog, I emphasized that individuals appointed by the president to run the departments of Treasury and Labor, SEC, CFTC, and other regulatory agencies will have a big impact on policies and programs governing the investment advisory profession. Now that President Obama has been re-elected, it will fall to him to figure out who will replace Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro (both of whom are likely to call it quits in the near future), and whether Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (and Assistant Secretary Phyllis Borzi) will continue at DOL and Chairman Gary Gensler at the CFTC.
Whatever choices the president makes will have a profound impact on the regulatory agenda for investment advisory businesses. You can call me a coward for not making predictions about who will be appointed and what their agenda will be. But my 25 years in Washington, DC, have taught me that such political appointments are extremely difficult to predict—and that predicting those appointees’ ultimate track record is even more tenuous.