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Does Trump Deserve More Credit for the Stock Market?

Does Trump Deserve More Credit for the Stock Market?

President Donald Trump has no doubt been great for the economy, and in turn, the stock market.

But he’s like a bottomless pit when it comes to his need for constant attention, praise and affirmation, so of course he doesn’t think he’s getting enough credit.

“The Stock Market hit an all-time record high today and they’re actually talking impeachment?” he tweeted last week. “Will I ever be given credit for anything?”

The stock market hitting record highs isn’t anything new no matter which president it has occurred under, but how does Trump compare to past presidents?

Yahoo Finance compared the market record highs dating back to 1980 and Ronald Reagan’s first term, and the numbers say that if Trump deserves more credit for the market, then Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama deserve more credit as well, as those three presided over a market with more total record highs in the S&P 500 than Trump has — so far. Of course, he still has a year and a half left in his first term so there could be plenty more records along the way.

Per Yahoo Finance:

Using TradeStation data, Yahoo Finance’s Jared Blikre crunched the numbers going back to Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980. We counted stock-market highs in the S&P 500 from election day to election day, since stock values reflect expectations of future performance the moment investors know the election outcome.

Trump has presided over more S&P records during his first term than most of his predecessors did in their first four years. Yet for now, Trump’s total number of records fall short of those seen during the Obama, Clinton and Reagan years.

Here’s the breakdown:

market Trump S&P 500

It’s a bit silly to gauge a president’s mettle by the number of stock-market highs, since the stock market consistently hits new highs as the economy grows.

“In a rising market, you will see new highs on a regular basis,” Brad McMillan of Commonwealth Financial Network wrote to clients on April 24. “From a fundamental perspective, the rise really doesn’t tell us much.”

The stock market has performed well under Trump, with the S&P 500 up 37% since Trump was elected in 2016. Trump deserve at least some credit for those gains, based on the 2017 tax cuts that sent corporate profits soaring, and boosted GDP growth in 2018.

But the stock market performance under Trump isn’t unusual. The S&P 500 rose 42% during the four years following Obama’s first election in 2008, and 50% following his 2012 reelection. The S&P 500, in fact, rose by double digits during every four-year period since Election Day 1980 — except for George W. Bush’s two terms.

Trump is barely 2 years into his term, so future gains might make his record look better. Or, if the economy turns down, it could get worse.

Yet under any president, timing most likely has more to do with the stock market’s performance than administration policies.

The best 4-year performance since 1980 came after Bill Clinton was reelected in 1996, with the S&P 500 gaining 101%. But we know now that much of that was the Dot-com boom— which became a huge bust starting in 2001.

That’s why the worst four-year performance came after George W. Bush’s election in 2000, with stocks tumbling 21% during the next four years. Bush basically inherited a bear market.

Obama won election in 2008 amid a financial collapse and stock-market wipeout — which helped his record, based solely on the numbers. Most of the stock market’s losses came before Obama’s election, with Wall Street bottoming out four months later. Stocks then began a rally that persists to this day.

Trump benefited from some lucky timing, too. The economic recovery, including job and income growth, lagged the stock-market recovery that began in 2009. But it was finally picking up steam by the time Trump won election in 2016.

Trump, however, doesn’t see it that way, consistently claiming credit when stocks go up — and blaming the Federal Reserve when stocks go down. So if he doesn’t end up with more record highs than Reagan, Clinton or Obama, don’t blame him.