It was a rather unpleasant day on Wall Street yesterday, with all of the major indexes off sharply, including a 600-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Donald Trump, who sees himself as something of an expert in matters of finance, was only too pleased to offer his assessment of the day’s trading.
“The prospect of Presidential Harassment by the Dems is causing the Stock Market big headaches!” the Republican wrote on Twitter.
Ah, yes. The president wants Americans to believe that investors, six days after Democrats won a House majority, suddenly realized that at some point next year, Congress may examine some of Donald Trump’s scandals, and this led to a significant Wall Street selloff, months ahead of the first House hearing.
No, seriously, that’s the president’s argument. As the Washington Post noted, however, it’s clearly not a good argument.
[I]t’s pretty silly to blame any single event for stock-market jitters. The technology sector fell after a key Apple supplier, Lumentum Holdings, cut its earnings and revenue outlook after it said a major customer – believed to be Apple – significantly reduced its orders for laser diodes. The announcement sent Lumentum down 33 percent, and many other tech stocks fell as well.
This is just the latest warning sign in the once-sizzling tech sector. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 is down more than 10 percent since the beginning of October.
Meanwhile, investors were also reacting to the news that Saudi Arabia said it would cut its oil production. (Perhaps recognizing this connection, Trump later tweeted that the Saudis should not do that.) Another thing hanging over the market: Trump’s trade war with China.
It’s amusing, of course, to see Trump adopt a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose posture toward Wall Street: when stocks go up, the president demands credit; when stocks go down, he insists Democrats get the blame.
But let’s not miss the forest for the trees: Trump sure does seem nervous about congressional oversight.
Last week, during a White House press conference, the president suggested he’d refuse to work with Congress on substantive issues if the new House Democratic majority investigated any of his scandals. Trump effectively asked Dems to choose between legislating and conducting oversight – because in his mind, it has to be one or the other.
A week later, Trump argued that the mere possibility of oversight at some point in the future caused a significant drop in Wall Street.
Obviously, the arguments are foolish on a substantive level, but the subtext is what matters: the president is preoccupied with the dangers posed by congressional scrutiny.
I wonder why that is.
Postscript: For the record, congressional Republicans did exhaustive oversights of the Clinton and Obama administrations. It didn’t cause the stock market to drop.