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An Election Warning For Energy Traders

I have said and written many times, in many different contexts, that one of my core investing beliefs is that politicians have a lot less effect on the market than most people, and especially they themselves, think they do. The one major exception to that, at least when it comes to Presidents, is in terms of energy stocks. The Department of Energy is run by the White House, as is the Environmental Protection Agency, which is responsible for a lot of the regulations that directly impact the energy industry. Obviously then, who is President matters for energy companies to some extent.

The relationship, though, isn’t as simple as it often might seem at first.

When Donald Trump was elected in 2016, it was generally seen as being a great thing for both oil and coal. He had embraced the two “dirty” energy sources during his campaign and had promised to do everything he could to help them. He would be the friend of fossil fuels. If you look at the charts for crude prices (CL: top) and the Coal ETF (KOL: Bottom) for the four years since his election, though, you would probably be tempted to as “with friends like that, who needs enemies?”

The thing is, no matter how much energy policy changes and in which direction, there are long-term forces at play that will always supersede those changes. Over four years, in both cases, those long-term forces eventually won out. Still, for the first year or two following the last election,…





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