Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Trump and the plunging stock market

Over the last few days, the stock market has been plunging, effectively wiping out two months worth of gains.

But where are the Trump tweets now concerning the market? He's been stone silent on this topic, a topic he has loved to comment on repeatedly since taking office. Whenever the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) hit a new high, we heard about it. The rising stock market became synonymous with Trump, largely due to him taking full credit for its rise.

I cannot ever recall another president in history so frequently commenting on the market. Past presidents likely realized that:
1) The stock market is an incredibly complex apparatus that moves for many reasons, most of which even the "experts" cannot fathom at the time (markets discount the future, making it difficult to ascertain why prices are rising or falling in the here and now). That said the POTUS is only one of several factors impacting the market at any given time.
2) If you bought it, you own it. Prior presidents fully understood that if you want to take credit for a rising stock market, you better be ready to likewise accept blame for when stocks inevitably head south.
But as we know, Trump is "different" and likely too ignorant to realize both #1 and #2.

The fact remains that Trump's constant tweets and reminders about the market hitting new highs was and is incredibly irresponsible. We all know he's a shameless huckster, a two-bit salesman who will hype the hell out of anything that benefits him. But there are laws and regulations about "selling" when it comes to stocks, bonds, etc. Financial advisors and the like have to be very careful about what they say when it comes to hyping or promising investment performance. They're expected to err on the side of caution, to be prudent and transparent when discussing not just reward but more importantly, risk.

All of these laws and regulations are to protect the investor. It's very easy for someone to get caught up in the hysteria of a rising market, which increasingly makes them susceptible to acting on emotion as opposed to reason. An unscrupulous, dishonest advisor could take full advantage of this situation -- if not for the laws and regulations.

Yet laws and regulations to Trump are just bureaucratic red tape that stand in the way of prosperity. They're a hindrance and not to be taking seriously.

Just imagine how many people were overly influenced by Trump's tweets and incessant mentions of stock market highs, allowing it to color their judgment and perhaps they increased their allocation to stocks above and beyond what was prudent for them. Which was great while the market climbed higher each day, but now with stocks seemingly in free-fall, it's not so fun anymore.

So how many millions or billions of dollars of stock market gains were due to Trump's deliberate, non-stop hyping? And isn't he then on the hook for the losses too? If this stock market downturn continues, can we expect to see investors increasingly blame Trump for their losses? I mean, according to him, it appeared stocks could only go in one direction.

I'm just curious to see how he'll blame things on Obama and/or the Democrats.