UK

Why Donald Trump's Claim Of Stock Market Success Is Meaningless And Could Backfire Spectacularly

He's riding the crest of an Obama wave.

18/10/2017 12:09 BST | Updated 18/10/2017 16:06 BST

Short of passing any major legislation during his first nine months in office, Donald Trump has been forced to look elsewhere in order to provide evidence of success during his Presidency.

One area he consistently returns to is the US Stock Market.

So why does the “Fake News Media” not report on the “unprecedented Stock Market growth since the election”?

Because it’s not actually that unprecedented - stocks have been on an upward trend since the end of the Great Recession in 2009.

Statista
Infographic supplied by Statista. 

This upswing is what’s known as a “Bull Market” and this particular one is 103-months-old, meaning only 11 of them belong to Trump.

The rest belong to President Barack Obama.

As Gregory Daco, Head of US Economics at Oxford Economics USA, told HuffPost UK: “I often tell our clients that there was an economy before Trump, there will be one after Trump and the economy on its own has a lot of momentum and so you cannot take credit for any specific month, payroll gains or Stock Market gains because it’s just not how an economy functions.”

But that doesn’t stop Trump from trying - just yesterday he tweeted an animation purporting to show the effect of his election on the Dow Jones stock market index.

But stretch the timeline on that chart and it’s clear to see it’s nothing exceptional.

The same goes for jobs...

In fact, it’s a trend seen globally only other countries are seeing more growth than the US - except Brexit-mired Britain.

Trump has been responsible for a small portion of US growth - his election saw a small rise in stock value labelled the “The Trump Bump”, but short of another recession or major international crisis, the president was always going to be riding the crest of a wave that began under Obama.

Of the factors behind growth in the US economy since Trump took office, Daco says: “We’ve seen a series of positive factors that have driven these gains - initially there was the Trump bump then there was the better global backdrop in terms of global economic activity then there was the weakening of yields and the dollar which both contribute.

“Then there were a series of positive quarterly earnings which again supported... higher stock prices.”

Even The Trump Bump starts to appear less impressive when compared further to his earlier predecessors.

The S&P 500 index hit 127 all-time highs under Obama, 268 under President Clinton and 154 under President Reagan (George W Bush only had 9), yet none of them consistently bragged about it and for good reason.

According to Daco, there’s an obvious risk in claiming responsibility for something you may not have complete control over: “If you claim the upside then you have to be accountable for the downside too.

“Well when you look at it from a political perspective, you always want to claim things that are going in your favour but how much you can claim is always a difficult gamble and a risky one, especially with stock prices.

“Anybody who lived through the Great Recession should know better not to claim gains in stock prices because they can flip on you very quickly.”

But judging by Trump’s track record so far, it’s unlikely he’d stand up and take responsibility for any downturn.

Much of the responsibility for the continuing growth in the US economy rests squarely on Trump’s shoulders and whether or not he can pass the legislation he wants.

But even this could count against him.

Daco says: “If anything, if you look back on the last nine months and the policy mix, it’s actually been tilted towards the downside in terms of policy uncertainty, leaning towards more protectionist policies.

“You see it with the pullout of the TPP [Trans Pacific Partnership], NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] negotiations, tariffs on lumber... all those are indications of an ongoing protectionist lean.

“All those are negative for the economy both in the short and long run.”

And that’s assuming he can pass legislation something which so far he has failed to do.

As William D Cohen wrote in a Vanity Fair piece titled ‘How The Stock Market Will Cripple Donald Trump’:

“But Wall Street investors—those in the business of making money from money, picking winners, and hedging risk,—aren’t going to stick with Trump forever. His inability to execute is discouraging.

“Investors are bound to lose faith in him. Combined with the fact that Congress doesn’t like the guy, and Capitol Hill Republicans appear increasingly unafraid that a dimwitted tweet might get them primaried, the truth is that Trump is going to have a very hard time enacting any of his economic promises into laws that he can sign.

“And when the market figures that out—which shouldn’t be too long from now—we are in for a huge correction, just in time for autumn, when for whatever reason, the market likes to get skittish.”