What mattered were the actual pieces of paper we traded. Not the S&P 500 and not the ETFs -- just individual stocks -- and stocks of all shapes and sizes were having a very good run.
When you consider this period we are in now, you recognize something. The companies themselves -- except when they are taken over or do something dramatic or are selling into emerging markets that are turning -- they are almost all hostage to the dynamic in Washington. Everything from banks to health care to defense to oil and gas to utilities to autos to retailers can be traced back to Washington in some form, either through legislation or because of the Federal Reserve. It's not so much "intrusion" as it is total immersion.
So my takeaway from looking back is that history teaches us nothing, and we are stuck with the current day, which is distinctly a "government gridlock sell the futures and buy them back later" era. It's pretty much the opposite, frankly, of what we had back then. The Clinton-Gingrich fracas, in this light, seems almost quaint -- a political power struggle, not a fight to the death about government vs. no government. It wasn't existential back then, though it sure is now. Which is why it is so darned hard to figure out when this will all end.