The Stock Market Dip and the Trump Economy
October, which concludes with Halloween, historically often brings “tricks” for stock markets. So far, this month is following suit, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average scared investors with an 831-point tumble on Wednesday. Mainstream media critics of President Trump have mostly ignored the incredible positive news for our economy since his election, and seem to take twisted glee in days like Wednesday, with HBO host Bill Maher actually admitting that he wants a recession because it may mean “getting rid of Trump.”
Despite this recent market volatility, the real economic growth of the Trump Boom continues apace. So Mr. Maher will likely be very disappointed. Sorry -- but not sorry -- Bill.
Regarding the market, context is important. Even with the sharp plunge, the Dow still stands an astounding 40 percent higher since the 2016 election and sits just 4 percent off the all-time highs achieved last week. Given the astronomical rise in prices, 800 points just isn’t what it used to be!
But more importantly, the performance of the real underlying economy matters far more to a much broader constituency. In fact, I wrote about this very point in January when the DJIA was at almost this exact same price, and advised the president, publicly and privately, to resist the temptation to fixate on equity indices and instead message on Main Street’s expansion.
From here, there are three crucial potential hurdles for stocks, but all of them still point to incredible success for the Trump agenda:
- Interest rates – As yields climb, stocks often become less attractive to safety-seeking savers. Rates have indeed risen lately, but for the best reason: faster economic growth! The Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank’s statistical, real-time GDP Now model presently measures growth at 4.2 percent, building on the huge second-quarter number. After the sluggish, slow recovery of the Obama years, it’s a great relief that bond markets actually believe again in a U.S. economy that can gallop ahead, not just lazily trot. Moreover, this new growth paradigm allows the Federal Reserve to steadily normalize rates, removing the artificial and inefficient central-planning model of incessantly low interest rates.
- Wages – Interest rates languished in the Obama years largely because wages stagnated. But now, the tightest job market of our lives propels incomes higher. The August 2018 jobs report showed the fastest average hourly earnings gains since the end of the credit crisis in 2009. Within the broad wage ascent, previously lagging groups have especially advanced. For example, Hispanic annual wage growth at 3.7 percent under Trump’s leadership far outpaces the national average. While higher wages profoundly benefit workers, the rising input costs for companies can pressure corporate profitability and become a hurdle for further stock market appreciation. We should still gladly welcome long-needed pay raises for workers, even if they prove nettlesome for equity investors.
- Trade – Global markets lately fret about trade tension, especially with China, where the Shanghai Composite Index has slumped 18 percent on the year compared to the Dow Jones, which still maintains a 3.5 percent gain for 2018 even after Wednesday’s tremor. Trump’s tough stand on trade may present near-term concern for markets, especially non-U.S. ones, but our long-term security and prosperity necessitate a strong negotiating posture against a mercantilist and dishonest China that has abused our country for decades. Multinationals always worry about disruption, but President Trump totally is reorienting the global supply chain, tilting sourcing and growth away from Asia and back toward the Americas. In doing so, Trump is fulfilling a foundational promise from his inaugural address when he said that “the wealth from our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world. But that is the past. And now we are looking only to the future.”
So, when markets convulse, as they inevitably do, take solace in the long-term forces elevating our country, broadening our prosperity and lifting our spirits. In this new paradigm, small business optimism sets all-time records and consumer confidence soars. No matter where the stock market meanders in the coming weeks and months, we now enjoy a new era of Main Street growth and success for the many.