With COVID-19 cases on the rise across the country, uncertainty around a contentious presidential election and no action from Washington on another stimulus package, Wall Street has been having a rough month. GBH Morning Edition host Joe Mathieu spoke with Shannon Saccocia, Chief Investment Officer at Boston Private, about what investors can expect from the markets in the weeks ahead. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.

Joe Mathieu: I was listening to you talk earlier this week pointing to a slowdown in business activity in recent weeks. You pointed to lower retail sales [and] lower airline passenger traffic. When we consider the economy itself and the rising COVID cases, are we entering another slowdown here, Shannon?

Shannon Saccocia: We could certainly see a relative slow down, considering the improvement that we experienced over the course of the summer. One of the things that really helped to insulate, to some extent, some additional drop in consumer demand was the CARES Act. And obviously, we saw the provisions of the CARES Act, including those extended unemployment benefits, expire at the end of July. We were expecting there to be some residual impacts from the expiration of those benefits. And if you had asked me at the beginning of the year what the most volatile period would have been this year, it probably would have been the September-October timeframe leading up to the election. So some of this isn't necessarily unexpected, but I think that people were hopeful that we wouldn't see an additional wave of cases, and we certainly are seeing that now.

Mathieu: How much are you worried about the election? People love talking about politics on Wall Street, and it doesn't always add up with Democrats sometimes associated with more regulations [and] Republicans associated with lower taxes. But in the end, it comes down to uncertainty, right? There's concern that we might not know who won.

Saccocia: Absolutely. The bottom line is that if you look at it from an economic and market perspective, which is, of course, what I'm supposed to do, who sits in the White House generally has a lot less of an impact on your investment portfolio than the economy at large. And Congress, frankly, has more of an impact on Congress at large. So what Wall Street in particular dislikes is uncertainty. If you go back to the Gore-Bush election, which obviously we had Florida hanging in the balance, those several weeks were volatile periods in the market because of that uncertainty. So I think that we could see a delay in what is traditionally and historically a bounce in stocks after the election, if there is a contested situation ahead of us over the course of the next couple of weeks.

Mathieu: Shannon, how worried are you about the consumer? You mentioned the CARES Act. We have no stimulus, people have been unemployed in many cases for months, and if you're looking at slowing retail sales as we walk into the holiday period, things could get worse.

Saccocia: Absolutely. We're seeing really two things. Number one, we're seeing a K-shaped recovery. Obviously, working class Americans have been disproportionately impacted by COVID, especially those working in the services industry. So we've seen a lot more pain, a lot less discretionary income [and] more unemployment in that segment of the population. And what we're seeing in the last couple of weeks is a relatively robust report from retailers about sales. I think a lot of that might be pulled forward from the Christmas season. If we think about all the disruptions in supply chains that we experienced in March and April, I think people who have discretionary income are shopping a little bit early for the holiday season. And so I am concerned that if you're looking at it from a consumer perspective, we may have a bit of this pull forward. And as we move closer to Christmas, even UPS and FedEx are saying please don't expect to be able to get your packages as quickly during that time period, so I'm a little bit concerned about a lull in the consumer as we move into November and December.

Mathieu: I'm remembering that term "pull forward". We're going to be hearing that a lot more, I think, as we go into the holidays and into the new year. As far as investors are concerned, Shannon, I can't imagine the phone calls you get on days like these. Are we making a whole round trip now? We went back almost to our highs just a couple of weeks ago, and the losses are severe. How concerned are you about the stock market?

Saccocia: I think these last couple of days have certainly been worrisome, but I think they're warranted. And I think that's important for investors to understand that with everything happening right now — with COVID swirling, the election, all the things that we're grappling with — it's expected that we could see a little bit of taking money off of the table in stocks. The reality is, though, that in 2021, we have significant stimulus at our backs. We have monetary stimulus, we will get another fiscal stimulus package and maybe even an additional infrastructure package next year. And bonds, frankly, really aren't all that attractive. So although we might see some near-term pain in the equity market, looking forward over the next couple of years, particularly into the back half of next year, equities are probably most appropriate if you have a longer-term time horizon and you're looking to reap some gains for a market that right now just feels unattractive on a number of different levels.