Wall Street's unwillingness to toast George Bush's big victory this week bodes poorly for the stock market in the year ahead and underscores serious economic woes facing the president-elect, market analysts said Friday.
"Instead of a champagne party Bush got a cold shower from the markets," said Robert Stovall of 21st Securities.Stocks, bonds and the dollar all fell for the remainder of the week after Tuesday's election, with the Dow Jones industrial average dropping 60 points in the final three sessions. For the week, it fell 78.77 points.
Traders in the United States and abroad pointed fingers at familiar culprits - the U.S. budget and trade deficits - as the cause of the market's tumble. Heads of state and finance ministers called for quick action by the new adminstration to act on the deficit. But hopes were not high.
"Post-election realism has set in," said Steven Einhorn of Goldman Sachs & Co.
Congress kept its strongly Democratic stripes in the election, and Bush came out swinging with stubborn "watch-my-lips" statements against tax hikes.
Because the twin deficits received so little attention in recent months, some traders argued that they were just convenient excuses to explain a stock market decline that might have happened anyway. The emotional letdown after the election caused the drop, they said.
But others said it was no coincidence that the twin deficits resurfaced the day after the election because the issue had been purposely ignored by America's trading partners in the months running up to Nov. 8.
"This was a year of unusual cooperation between the trading partners," said Einhorn. "It seems a good deal of the harmony came from a desire for Bush to be elected - the trading partners preferred the person they knew to the one they didn't know. So immediatly after the election, they broke their silence."
Aside from criticizing U.S. economic policies, the trading partners also appeared to have pulled the plug on the dollar, dealers said. After propping it up for months, most foreign central banks were curiously absent from the foreign exchange centers after Bush was elected. Some even theorized that the United States wanted a lower dollar to help cut the trade deficit.
With most of the props knocked out from under the currency, it dropped more than 2 percent against the German mark and to a 10-month low against the Japanese yen.
"There is so much uncertainty here, the stock market can't gather any strength to go up," said Charles Jensen of MKI Securities.
The lower dollar, while helping cut the trade deficit, translates to a threat of higher inflation, an unwillingness of foreigners to hold U.S. financial assets and a rise in interest rates, all of which translate to lower stock prices, Jensen said.