Experts are preparing for a choppy market ahead of the 2020 election. Here are the 6 themes UBS says investors should be watching.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a joint news conference with Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 13, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan hold a joint news conference at the White House in Washington

  • The 2020 U.S. presidential election is top of mind for investors wondering how it might impact their portfolios, according to UBS's Year Ahead 2020 report.
  • Generally, national elections don't substantially affect investors. But, the U.S. election is an exception to that rule, said Mike Ryan, UBS chief investment strategist for Wealth Management Americas.
  • Here are six key themes that investors should watch in the lead-up to the election in 2020, according to UBS.
  • Read more on Business Insider.

Heading into 2020, the U.S. presidential election is top of mind for investors asking how it might impact their portfolios.

While national elections generally don't substantially affect global investors, the U.S. election "is an exception to that rule," said Mike Ryan, UBS chief investment strategist for Wealth Management Americas, at a press event Tuesday. Advertisement

That's because the U.S. makes up roughly 55% of the MSCI All Country World index, the U.S. Treasury bond yield is a benchmark for global financial assets, and the U.S. dollar is involved in 88% of all currency transactions, according to UBS.

U.S. stocks could face higher volatility leading up to the election, UBS said. And some individual sectors, including technology, energy, financials, and healthcare, could suffer from price swings.

That means that investors both in the U.S. and abroad should pay attention in the run-up to the election and monitor the debates for a number of key issues, the bank said.
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Here are six key themes that UBS says investors should be watching in the next year leading up to the 2020 election.

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1. Corporate taxes

1. Corporate taxes

If a Democratic candidate prevails in 2020, there could be sweeping changes to corporate taxes, according to UBS. A 28% corporate tax rate, like the one proposed by former Vice President Joe Biden, would lower S&P 500 earnings by 3% to 4%, UBS estimates.

Senator Elizabeth Warren's plans would lower earnings by about 7%, the bank said.

But, if Trump wins a second term, corporate tax rates would likely remain the same. Lower corporate taxes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017 boosted S&P 500 earnings by nearly 10%, UBS said.

2. Trade policy

2. Trade policy

The conflict between the U.S. and China has been a huge market mover over the last year. While there are signs that a phase-one deal could be coming soon, investors should still watch out for further trade talks, UBS says.

If Trump is reelected in 2020, he "could become more adversarial with China," UBS said.

On the flip side, it seems that a Democratic president would "be unlikely to adopt a more conciliatory approach," UBS said.

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3. Technology regulation

3. Technology regulation

Investors should be prepared for greater scrutiny of big tech, UBS said. This is a big deal as technology looms large in the S&P 500, making up 16% of market value.

If President Trump wins reelection, tech giants could face scrutiny from antitrust regulators in addition to the review underway by the Department of Justice, UBS said.

And, a Democratic president would also spell trouble for big tech. Warren has released a plan to break up the biggest tech companies, and Biden has supported further investigation. Discussions on the topic could "exacerbate volatility" at the U.S. tech giants, UBS said.

4. Environmental legislation

4. Environmental legislation

President Trump has loosened environmental regulations, but if a Democrat wins in 2020, they would "almost certainly retighten them," according to UBS.

That could put pressure on the carbon-based energy sector, UBS said. It could also boost companies connected to clean energy, clean air, carbon reduction, and energy efficiency, according to UBS.

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5. Redistribution

5. Redistribution

If President Trump is reelected, UBS thinks he might push to make the personal tax cuts from his Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017 permanent.

But under a Democratic president, income tax rates for the wealthy would likely increase, UBS said, as the federal minimum wage and Social Security payments would also probably rise.

To hedge against this, UBS recommends adding exposure to consumer spending instead of business spending in 2020.

6. Healthcare reform

6. Healthcare reform

Healthcare is a huge debate topic in the lead-up to the 2020 election. President Trump has weakened the Affordable Care Act, but a Democratic president would likely strengthen it.

If a Democrat wins, UBS thinks "a move toward greater provision of public healthcare is likely." In addition, there could be some form of restriction on how much drug companies can charge for medication. This would hurt the healthcare sector and pharmaceutical industry, UBS said.

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