An Introduction to Political and Governmental Risk in Stock Investments

By Paul Mladjenovic

Government rules and regulations are important considerations when making investment decisions. If companies were fish, politics and government policies (such as taxes, laws, and regulations) would be the pond. In the same way that fish die in a toxic or polluted pond, politics and government policies can kill companies.

For some companies, a single new regulation or law is enough to send them into bankruptcy. For other companies, a new law can help them increase sales and profits.

What if you invest in companies or industries that become political targets? You may want to consider selling them (you can always buy them back later) or consider putting in stop-loss orders on the stock. For example, tobacco companies were the targets of political firestorms that battered their stock prices.

Whether you agree or disagree with the political machinations of today is not the issue. As an investor, you have to ask yourself, “How do politics affect the market value and the current and future prospects of my chosen investment?”

Taking the preceding point a step further, remember that politics and government have a direct and often negative impact on the economic environment. And one major pitfall for investors is that many misunderstand even basic economics.