Friday, January 5, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He made an false claim about the stock market that managed to also be irrelevant.

Trump tweeted this today:

There are, to put it mildly, a few fibs here.

It's not exactly honest that Trump is taking credit for gains in the stock market that happened while President Obama was still in office--but then all claims by presidents to have influenced the stock market are more or less meaningless. Still, Trump is correct that the DJIA went up 1,000 points (actually 1,134) between November 29 and January 4.

But it's neither a speed record nor all that uncommon. In fact, in the same period of time (24 trading days), there have been 30 days in the Trump administration alone when the closing price was 1,000+ points higher than 24 trading days earlier. By comparison, it also happened 77 times during the Obama administration. Likewise, the 4.7% increase over that period was matched 307 times while President Obama was in office.

The comparisons with Obama are relevant because of Trump's tweet the night before, in which he sarcastically wondered how the media would be raving if "O" had had as good a year in the stock market. In fact, the stock market did even better during Obama's first year in office.

There's one other serious problem with Trump's claim: while a fair number of Americans have a token amount invested in the stock market, the trillions of dollars that Trump is claiming in "paper gains" is going almost exclusively to the wealthiest Americans or corporations, and wealth inequality tends to inhibit job growth rather than promote it.

Why should I care about this?

  • Numbers don't change or cease to exist just because a president wants them to.
  • A president who wants to brag about how he's better than his predecessor should pick topics where he is in fact better, rather than less good.
  • A president who doesn't know the difference between stock market prosperity and prosperity that touches the vast majority of Americans is a president who doesn't know the first thing about economics.