Donald Trump this week once again hailed his presidency as the driving force behind Wall Street’s record stock market performance.
The president hit Twitter to highlight “FOUR one thousand milestones this year” as the Dow Jones index pushed through the 23,000 barrier.
It has been just 54 days since America’s stock market broke the 22,000 barrier – which Trump also noted at the time.
In fact, the president is never shy at claiming credit for the record highs of the stock market as he pushes his “make America great again” campaign slogan.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2017
But just how much credit can Trump take? Here’s what has actually been happening…
Bull in a china shop
The bull market in US stocks is, in fact, 103 months old – and Trump can claim credit, in part, for 11 of those months. The run started in March 2009, under Barack Obama, and at the lowest point of the worldwide financial crisis.
Since then, stocks have been climbing steadily, reaching a new high, on average, once every seven days or so since March 2013.
Trump is correct in stating the Dow has never been higher – and it has hit 65 records since his election win in November of last year.
So what’s behind the historic highs?
Most of the positive indicators – more jobs, lower unemployment, more investment – were inherited from the Obama regime.
What is true is that the markets have responded even more positively to Trump’s much heralded plans for tax reform, both for business and for ordinary working Americans.
His promised aggressive action to cut red tape that has been supposedly hampering business has also cheered investors, as has his pledge to boost infrastructure spending.
More people getting back into work has also been talked up: unemployment stood at 10% in 2009 and was down to 4.8% when Obama left office. It now stands at 4.1% .
So, while Trump can rightly say he has overseen falling employment, it’s a marginal gain.
Are Americans better off under Trump?
The US inflation rate stands at 2.2% for the 12 months to the end of September, which is down slightly on the 2.5% figure when Obama left the White House in January.
However, at the same point last year, it was 1.5%, and throughout 2015, it barely made positive territory.
Just as importantly, wage growth under Trump has been steady but not spectacular. Average hourly earnings rose three cents or 0.1% in August after advancing 0.3% in July, keeping the year-on-year gain in wages at 2.5% for a fifth consecutive month.
That’s actually lower than the 2.9% growth when he took office.
Can Trump really claim to be “making America great again”?
In terms of GDP, that increased at an annual rate of 3.1% in the second quarter of 2017, according to revised figures from the Commerce Department.
It was the fastest rate since the first quarter of 2015, so Trump could be vindicated in claiming his policies are working.
The first estimate of third-quarter GDP is to be released on October 27, and is expected to dip on the back of the impact of the hurricanes that pounded much of the south.
In fact, the economy grew 2.6% or more in 81 of the 145 quarters since Ronald Reagan became president, including 14 times during the Obama administration.
Putting it into context
The steady and maintained gains this year reflect robust profits at big companies, low interest rates and economies in developed nations around the world in good or improving health.
Even clashes with North Korea, extreme weather events, Brexit worries in Europe and ongoing tensions in the Middle East have not materially affected the markets.
It would be really nice if the Fake News Media would report the virtually unprecedented Stock Market growth since the election.Need tax cuts
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2017
Big US corporations such as Apple, McDonald’s and Boeing, all of which have big overseas markets, continue to make money.
And the weakening dollar has helped US goods become more affordable and attractive in foreign markets.