What effect will Obama have?
One company that clearly broke away from its industry pack is bank holding company Hudson City. hcbk While American International Group aighad a compounded annual loss of 40%, Hudson City Bancorp had an annual compounded gain of 23% in the Bush years despite the recent and vicious downdraft that devastated New York's financial district a dozen miles away from Hudson's Paramus, N.J., headquarters. Hudson CEO Ronald Hermance says he has been regularly interviewed for deftly sidestepping "acid waste" mortgages.
Presidents matter, Hermance says and, if nothing else, Obama's approval rating alone will give the economy a boost.
"If Obama goes for highway building, local construction companies will do well. It creates an environment of who will flourish and who won't," says Steve Forbes, editor of Forbes and a presidential candidate in the 1996 and 2000 Republican primaries. "(President) Reagan created the environment that made Silicon Valley take off. This president (Bush), sadly, allowed a weak dollar that really hurt. No one on Wall Street thought that we'd have investment houses disappear on Wall Street under a Republican president," he says.
A search of company filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission turns up few mentions of President Bush. One example is the 2002 proxy and annual report filed by JDS, which said that a $35 million tax refund was due to the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act signed that year by Bush. "We're administration-neutral," says JDS spokeswoman Kathleen Greene. "Our business is independent of who the president may be."
The S&P 500 was down 5.3% Tuesday, the first trading day of President Obama's years.
Contributing: Matt Krantz