If you’re like most people, you’ve gambled at some point in your life. Maybe it was in a casino. Could have been in the stock market. Perhaps it was that person you really wanted to ask out on a date. At some point, you’ve put it all out there. Maybe even, on occasion, too much. Those are the times when Mr. Egg meets Mr. Basket.
Throughout my criticisms of Donald Trump (and, yes, there have been many, I don’t deny it), I’ve never suggested that he is dumb. But there are times and actions that can certainly make him come off that way.
One of those is his insistence that the stock market is a barometer of how successful a president he is. While I’m sure he knew before he took office that the president has little actual impact on the stock market, up or down, he persisted in this claim.
The reason seems pretty obvious. The market going way, way up made headlines. Positive headlines. Everyone loves upbeat headlines, no one more than Mr. Trump.
And so he went back, over and over, in just about every speech or interview or tweet, to tell everyone how great the market was doing and, hey, you’re welcome. To bring in another aphorism, he went to the well once (or a hundred times) too often.
Now the market is going through some turmoil. Since Mr. Trump dislikes political correctness, let’s just call that turmoil what it is – it’s falling! A lot.
Of course, that’s what markets do. They rise, they fall. Rinse, repeat. Over time, money left in the stock market eventually goes up. But it never goes up uninterrupted.
Which begs the question, obviously, is Donald Trump responsible for the market decline?
Cynics would say, sure, if he gets credit for it going up, then he has to take blame for it going down. His supporters would say, look at all the gains until now, he’s still been a net positive.
Students of the stock market, smart people and realists will say, nope, just like he doesn’t get all the credit for it going up. Markets rise and fall. It’s written in history for decades.
There is some support in saying the tax cut anticipated enthusiasm helped generate the large market gains last year. But, be realistic now, that was because Republicans controlled Congress and the White House. There’s no “Trump bump” with a Democratic Congress.
Presidents are like sports coaches. They get too much credit for the victories and too much blame for the defeats. The decline in the stock market is no more “owned” by Mr. Trump than the rise was before now.
However, the opposite is also true. You can claim little credit for victories and receive little blame from others when you lose, or you can claim all the credit for your wins and take a beating when things go bad.
In those times, when you’ve pushed your chips “all in”, it’s instructive to remember when it was you made the decision to have Mr. Egg meet Mr. Basket.