It’s an objective fact: The stock market has been on a tear since Donald J. Trump was elected president.
President Trump hasn’t been shy about taking credit for the rise, which pulled the benchmark S&P 500 stock index to a series of record highs. The S&P 500 climbed roughly 17 percent this year, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 24,000 for the first time this week.
“The reason our stock market is so successful is because of me. I’ve always been great with money,” he said last month.
Is that true? Well, we might be about to find out.
News that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has reached a plea agreement that could implicate Trump sent stocks sharply lower at midday.
The sharp reversal of direction on the news is noteworthy. But it’s not particularly large. At last glance, the U.S. stock market is down a bit less than 1 percent. That’s not exactly a crash.
But, the prospect of U.S. politics entering yet another chaotic phase due to the progress of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation contacts between the Trump administration and the Russian government clearly could give some investors ample reason to take some money off the table after a long, placid increase in the stock markets.
On the other hand, if Trump was just taking credit for a stock market that was surging on sound global economic fundamentals, stocks may have reason to rise furth.
The U.S. economy grew at its fastest clip in three years in the third quarter. Worldwide economic growth is supposed to clock in at 3.7 percent in 2018, according to the latest forecast from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international nonprofit that tracks the performance of the world’s large, wealthy economies. And U.S. corporate profits are on-pace to hit roughly $2.2 trillion this year, a near record.
With all that in mind, we may be about to find out whether Trump was justified in taking credit for the markets. And that means things could get interesting.