Trump's Beloved Stock Market High Only Helps Rich People
Of course Donald Trump is excited about stock market highs—it's good for the rich and bad for the poor.
Photos via Getty Images/AP
Great news, my dear plebians! On Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average traded above 22,000 for the first time. According to the president's analysis of something he saw on FOX & Friends, "Corporations have NEVER made as much money as they are making now," and if you weren't already aware, Trump wants you to know that the "U.S. Stock Market up almost 20% since Election!"
Do you feel richer yet? I don't. Like a lot of middle-class people, and most millennials, I don't own any stock, so I can't muster up any enthusiasm for whatever the Dow has done since the election.
As Sean McElwee, an analyst at Demos and Demos Action, explained in a 2015 article, "fewer than half of Americans own stocks, and the top 10 percent richest Americans owned nearly 90 percent of all stocks, bonds, trusts and business equity in 2013." So when Donald Trump repeatedly brags about how well the stock market is doing since he's been in office, the subtext is that the Trump era is very good for the upper class.
"Donald Trump tweets about [the stock market] are basically the only time he's ever told the truth," Marshall Steinbaum, the research director and fellow at the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute, told me over the phone. "Trump has made it very clear that the aims of his administration are to further enrich the wealthy through the enactment of regressive tax policy that specifically benefits the owners of highly profitable and rich corporations."
According to Steinbaum, these stock market highs have "nil short-term impact on the ordinary person," and in the long term, they actually have a negative impact on the majority of Americans. When corporations are at their most profitable, "they're in a better position to extract as much as they can out of the economy," he explained. "What it reflects about the economy is that wealthy corporations are in a position to profit at our expense more so than ever. We should be very concerned as a broader public." After all, the stock market was doing great in 1928 and 2007, and spoiler alert—it did not work out too great for the country at large.
If we've learned anything from those crashes—or Trump's own career in business—what goes up generally comes crashing down. If Trump is taking credit for a stock uptick, but I can't help but wonder if he's going to take the blame when those same numbers fall.
Follow Eve Peyser on Twitter.