American presidents have rarely touted big gains in U.S. stock markets during their time in power, but Donald Trump appears to be making a habit of it.
He’s not the only president to do so, however.
In a speech before Congress on Tuesday night, Trump noted the “stock market has gained almost $3 trillion in value since the election on Nov. 8, a record.” That’s when he beat Hillary Clinton in arguably the biggest upset of all time.
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Trump has approvingly cited record gains in stocks in five tweets since his election, including Thursday morning.
Since November 8th, Election Day, the Stock Market has posted $3.2 trillion in GAINS and consumer confidence is at a 15 year high. Jobs!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 2, 2017
Great optimism for future of U.S. business, AND JOBS, with the DOW having an 11th straight record close. Big tax regulation cuts coming!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
Stock market hits new high with longest winning streak in decades. Great level of confidence and optimism – even before tax plan rollout!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2017
The world was gloomy before I won – there was no hope. Now the market is up nearly 10% and Christmas spending is over a trillion dollars!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2016
Taking credit for a good economy, of course, is a venerable American tradition. Every American president does it.
Still, a review of annual addresses to Congress since President Calvin Coolidge (1923-1928) shows that it’s exceedingly rare for president to mention the stock market.
Until Barack Obama, that is.
Obama never mentioned the stock market in any of his official presidential tweets after the twitter account was created in mid-2015. Nor did he mention the stock market in his private Twitter account last year.
Yet Obama touted stock market improvements in State of the Union speeches in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
“Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back, corporate profits are up, the economy is growing again,” Obama said in his 2011 address.
And in 2014 Obama told Congress: “Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better.”
Before Obama presidents appearing before Congress rarely if ever mentioned stock prices. MarketWatch, for example, could not find a single instance dating to the early 1920s.
Nor should it come as a surprise. Markets are fickle, often rising or falling for reasons unconnected to White House policies. What’s more, Wall Street has never been viewed favorably by the American public. It’s often seen as a rival to “Main Street.”
That hasn’t stopped new Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin from suggesting recently the stock market is a good barometer for the performance of the staunchly pro-business Trump White House.
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Sean Spicer, the president’s chief spokesman, appeared to temper such talk the day after Trump’s first address to Congress. He declined to directly tie the stock market’s latest record run to the president’s speech after a question from CNBC. Instead Spicer referred to general economic optimism.