People pass the New York Stock Exchange, June 24, 2016 in New York, N.Y.
Photo by Richard Drew/AP

Trump and his team want credit for stock market gains

Because people really like round numbers, it was big news yesterday when the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 20,000 for the first time. Almost immediately, the Trump White House decided it deserved credit for the developments.

Kellyanne Conway, for example, said the market milestone is the result of a “Trump Effect.” Anthony Scaramucci thanked Trump for the small bump in stock prices. The president himself is ready for a victory lap.
President Donald Trump weighed in on the Dow Jones industrial average reaching the 20,000 milestone, saying he was “very proud.”

In his first network interview from the White House on Wednesday, Trump discussed success in his first week in office, including Dow 20K. “The first time in history. I’m very proud of that. Now we have to go up, up, up,” Trump told ABC News.
Now seems like a good time to get a grip. Trump has been in office for six days. On two of them – Saturday and Sunday – the markets weren’t even open. There was a point in late October and early November when international markets started dropping when investors feared Trump might actually win, but those fears dissipated and markets stabilized soon after, thanks in part to the healthy economy Trump inherited from the president he characterized as an economic failure.

But in terms of basic arithmetic, since Trump’s inauguration, the Dow has climbed about 1.6%. When President Obama was in office, the Dow climbed about 150% – and I don’t recall Kellyanne Conway heralding the “Obama Effect.”

This isn’t the first time Republicans have made silly political arguments about the stock market. In early 2009, with  the economy in free fall and the Great Recession taking a severe toll, the Dow sunk to about 8,000 – and conservatives insisted this was all Obama’s fault.

As regular readers may recallKarl Rove and Lou Dobbs explicitly made this argument. So did Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Fred Barnes. For a short while, it was one of Mitt Romney’s favorite talking points, too. Even John Boehner got in on the larger attack.

Then Wall Street recovered, and Republicans decided they didn’t want to talk about it anymore. The rules appear to be as follows:

When the markets go down during a Democratic administration, blame the White House.

When the markets go up during a Democratic administration, change the subject.

And when the markets to up during a Republican administration, credit the president.

Just to be clear about this, I’m not suggesting a strong stock market is necessarily proof of a strong economy – it’s not, and there are far more important metrics – and arguing that the president is primarily responsible for the direction of market indexes is wrong.
That said, a little consistency would be nice.