Live by the Dow. Die by the Dow.
In last week’s State of the Union address, Donald Trump crowed loudly about how his soaring stock market “smashed one record after another!” And in fact, during Trump’s first year in office, the Dow Jones industrial average did go up 31.5 percent.
That was nice. Not as nice as Barack Obama’s first year, when the key market index leaped 34.9 percent. But still worth a tentative bow.
Emphasis on "tentative."
It’s always dicey hanging too much on the stock market, which has a nasty habit of moving in two directions, up AND down. As if to prove it —look out below! — there was the Dow on Friday free-falling 665 points, or 2.5 percent. It was the sixth-largest point drop in history, capping the market’s worst week in two years.
Is a bigger crash coming? Will stocks climb again? I don’t know, and neither does Donald. Predicting the future is often a fool’s game, and there are many factors at play — fiscal, psychological and the increasingly erratic behavior of the leader of the free world.
You tell me: Will Trump impose crazy trade tariffs? Will he spook Rocket Man? Will he fire Robert Mueller? Will he and Devin Nunes keep waging war on the Justice Department and the FBI? Will Democrats tame the chaos with the midterms?
Answer that. Then, maybe I can tell you if the stock markets will be shaken, baked or stirred.
The Republicans in Congress tell us all not to worry. Trump’s $1 trillion corporate tax cut is putting money in everyone’s pocket and changing everything. Paul Ryan was so enthused by his pet legislation, he took to Twitter over the weekend to put a human face on things and highlight one of the tax cut’s trickle-down beneficiaries.
“A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, PA, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week,” the Republican House speaker wrote. “She said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for the year.”
Don’t go searching now for the boneheaded tweet. It has already been deleted. But as the markets open again on Monday morning, look up AND look down.
Metro columnist Ellis Henican is the best-selling author of a dozen books, including “TRUMPITUDE: The Secret Confessions of Donald’s Brain.” Join him on Twitter @henican.