The Obama Industrial Average?

obama_mar12.jpgLast week, some of the partisan commentators were suggesting that the administration of Barack Obama was a failure in its first days, using the Dow closing average as one yardstick. When the Dow closed at its lowest level in 12 years, it had dropped 18% since the day of Obama’s inauguration.

Today, the Dow closed at 7170, or 9.7 percent below Inauguration Day. Did Obama become an 8.3 percent better president in one week?

Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele picked a bad time to send out a fundraising letter:

President Obama and Liberal Democrats in Congress don’t seem to grasp the fact that since the Democrats took total control in Washington, the stock market has lost over 20% of its value. And over 50 million middle class Americans have lost a huge amount of their life savings.

By the time it arrived, Steele’s numbers were already wrong.

Can you measure the performance of a president based on the stock market? The Associated Press tried on Monday.

Some investors blame the slow-motion crash on Wall Street’s disappointment with the government’s $787 billion stimulus plan, its seemingly endless bailouts and the lack of specifics on how to rid banks of toxic assets.

Others say Obama inherited a recession destined to become the worst since World War II. And they note that the market was already in awful shape at the tail end of the Bush administration, down 44 percent from the market’s 2007 peak to Inauguration Day.

Here’s recent Wall Street performance over the same period for other recent presidents:

George W. Bush – 2nd term +2.8%
George W. Bush – 1st term -3.5%
Bill Clinton – 2nd term +2.8%
Bill Clinton – 1st term +5.7%
George H.W. Bush +2.1%
Ronald Reagan – 2nd term +3.6%
Ronald Reagan – 1st term +4.3%
Jimmy Carter -1.2%
Richard Nixon (2nd term) -5.5%
Richard Nixon (1st term) -1.5%

Incidentally, with very little fanfare, MPR added some financial tools to its Web site not long ago. You can find some calculators and other things to play with here.

  • The stock market is, even with all the noise, nothing more than a market of stocks. The simple and obvious fact that the PEs have been stratospheric for the last 15 years or so was bound to end sometime.

    The people who say anything else are morons or partisan hacks lying their way to a salary. I think it’s shameful.

  • Tonya

    I’d have to agree and state my opinion again that the stock market is nothing but legalized gambling. That being said, I work for an investment advisory firm, so it pays my salary.

  • ScottK

    I’m more interested in what the trajectory was leading up to the administration. Assuming I’m reading this right things were heading down already.

    –S