Comment: Biden’s stock market record pretty close to Trump’s

At similar points in their presidencies, most market measures show little difference between the two men.

By Robert Burgess / Bloomberg Opinion

The victories for President Biden keep adding up heading into Tuesday’s State of the Union address. The American Rescue Plan. The Infrastructure Act of 2021. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. As impressive as those accomplishments are, perhaps the most astonishing one is what has happened in the stock market.

Yes, the stock market.

Despite dropping into a bear market last year, the S&P 500 Index has gained 24.1 percent since Election Day in November 2020. What’s remarkable is that under Donald Trump, a president with a reputation for market-friendly policies, the S&P 500’s performance wasn’t much better between Election Day in November 2016 and the same point in his administration, gaining 26.5 percent. And although the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite Index did better under Trump, Biden has him beat on the New York Stock Exchange Composite Index.

And if you believe that valuations are a sign of confidence, then with a price-earnings ratio of 19.8, investors are more confident in America’s companies than they were at the same point in Trump’s administration, when they assigned a P/E ratio of 18, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. To be sure, it’s not as if markets under the Trump administration didn’t face their fare share of adversity. Markets were rocked by China’s decision in late 2018 to devalue the yuan. And earlier that year, markets were upended by the “volmageddon” episode.

Yes, presidents get too much of the credit when the economy and markets are doing well and too much of the blame when they don’t. Plus, markets are influenced by a seemingly infinite number of variables and don’t always reflect current economic conditions, and presidents actually have very little influence. But those who praised Trump for the way the markets performed under his administration should give Biden his due.

So as Biden prepares to deliver his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday — and soon thereafter decides whether to seek reelection — his speechwriters are probably omitting any reference to the stock market after the S&P 500’s 20 percent slide last year. But that would be wrong. They should sing it loud and proud; the stock market loves Joe Biden! Maybe. To be honest, nobody actually knows what the stock market is saying. But taking a victory lap wouldn’t be so bad.

Robert Burgess is the executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion. Previously, he was the global executive editor in charge of financial markets for Bloomberg News.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Wednesday, March 22

A. sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Department of Natural Resources regional manager Allen McGuire, left, and acting bolder unit forester Tyson Whiteid, right, stand next to marker on land recently purchased by the DNR for timber harvest on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019 in Gold Bar, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Use state forestlands to ‘farm’ carbon credits

Legislation would allow the DNR to sell carbon offsets to fund reforestation and other climate work.

Comment: Those with disabilities need housing benefit help

People with developmental disabilities often qualify for housing aid, but the process can be daunting.

Xi, with hopes for reunification with Taiwan, will have to respect Ukraine’s desire for sovereignty.

By Andreas Kluth / Bloomberg Opinion The two most fraught conversations this… Continue reading

Comment: Xi, Putin seeking different goals in Moscow meeting

Putin’s focus is on weapons for his war in Ukraine. Xi is looking for stability and global influence.

Comment: Capitalism denuded Amazon; it can reforest it, too

Using carbon credits, Brazil’s president can help the farmers and ranchers who have been living off the rainforest.

Comment: Election fraud crew turns to polls to push message

Kari Lake asked Rasmussen for its help; they weighted a poll to produce the outcome she wanted.

Getty Images, sundial
Editorial: Indifference risks loss of access to public records

Members of the state’s Sunshine Committee are questioning how much others value its work.

An addict prepares heroin, placing a fentanyl test strip into the mixing container to check for contamination, Wednesday Aug. 22, 2018, in New York. If the strip registers a "pinkish" to red marker then the heroin is positive for contaminants. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Editorial: Legalize fentanyl test strips, then distribute them

Legislation to remove their ‘paraphernalia’ label is likely to pass, but that’s just the first step.

Most Read