by JOHN CARNEY
There really never has been anything like it in the lifetime of practically anyone who still treads upon the earth.
In the year since Donald Trump’s upset electoral victory over Hillary Clinton, the stock market has soared to record-breaking heights. No first-term president has overseen a post-election market rally this strong since people were singing, “Happy Days are Here Again” after the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932.
But even more remarkable than the Trump rally itself has been the delicious comeupance of so many market pundits, Wall Street analysts, and economists who had announced before the election that a Trump victory would crash the market, prove instantly ruinous to the economy, and produce any number of terrible financial consequences. We may never know exactly what caused the poobahs to warn that we risked vengence of the Gods of the Market by voting for Trump. Most likely it was some combination of solipisism (they didn’t like Trump, so they figured the market wouldn’t), economic ideology (free traders always think markets will crash without their policies), and class bias (they heard the people singing the songs of angry men and worried that people would not be slaves again).
Some of us had argued before the election that the predictions of doom were badly off-base. If Trump were elected it would indicate that a substantial number of Americans believed that we really could “make American great again.” Surely that itself would provide a boost to investor sentiment, consumer sentiment, business sentiment, and the true and objective measure of those things, the stock market.
The Trump crash never even had the courtesy to stay around for a full day. After an initial slide in futures markets in the middle of the night, once it became clear Trump had won, stocks rose relentlessly. All three major stock indexes—the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq —rose on Nov. 9. Since then, stocks have been on a massive run. The Dow is up nearly 29 percent, the S&P 500 up by just over 30 percent, and the Nasdaq by 21 percent.
If the anti-Trump fearmongering were just a harmless fad–the market intellectual’s version of pet rocks or fidget spinners–we could afford to let it slip down the memory hole. But it is important to memorialize the errors of the pre-election pundits, if only to remind ourselves that many of those self-styled wise men got the most important story of our era so badly wrong. After all, some of the worst of the bunch are still out there predictingdoom and gloom from Trump’s policies.
So here is a rogues gallery of those who said the rally was impossible and boldly predicted the crash that was never to materialize.
- Mark Cuban. “I can say with 100 percent certainty that there is a really good chance we could see a huge, huge correction,” Cuban told CNN. “That uncertainty potentially as the president of the United States — that’s the last thing Wall Street wants to hear.”
- Erik Jones. “You would see incredible pressure on stock prices if Trump wins and everyone flooding into rare metals like gold and into bonds” in the U.S., Germany and the United Kingdom, Erik Jones, professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, told Politico’s Ben White.
- Justin Wolfers and Eric Zitzewitz. “Given the magnitude of the price movements, we estimate that market participants believe that a Trump victory would reduce the value of the S&P 500, the UK, and Asian stock markets by 10-15%,” University of Michigan professor Wolfers and Dartmouth professor Zitzewitz wrote in a report that supposedly scientifically forecast the market’s reaction to Trump’s victory
- Andrew Ross Sorkin. The New York Times clomnist and CNBC anchor wrote: “In all likelihood, a Trump victory would lead to a swift, knee-jerk sell-off. Many investors will choose to sell stocks and ask questions later.” In fairness to Sorkin he hedged his believe in the sell-off by writing: In truth, it’s impossible to predict how the markets would settle into a Trump presidency, despite the speculation on all sides. In all likelihood, it will take time for investors to truly make sense and “math out” how his policies would affect the economy.
- Lawrence G. McDonald of ACG Analytics hedged also, predicting a massive sell-off followed by a relief rally. “Trump will create a colossal panic, but the relief rally will be outstanding,” he told Sorkin. Well, he got the rally right, anyway.
- Simon Johnson, a former chief economist of the IMF, a professor at MIT Sloan, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and co-founder of a leading economics blog, The Baseline Scenario had perhaps the most panicked reaction, in keeping with his status as America’s most authoritative economists. “With the United States’ presidential election on November 8, and a series of elections and other political decisions fast approaching in Europe, now is a good time to ask whether the global economy is in good enough shape to withstand another major negative shock. The answer, unfortunately, is that growth and employment around the world look fragile. A big adverse surprise – like the election of Donald Trump in the US – would likely cause the stock market to crash and plunge the world into recession,” Johnson wrote on October 29, 2016.
- Ian Winer, director of equity sales trading for the securities firm Wedbush, predicted a 50 percent fall in stocks if Trump won.
- Bridgewater Associates.On Tuesday, Bridgewater Associates sent out a note to its clients predicting that the Dow Jones Industrial Average could plunge nearly 2,000 points in one day if Trump is elected president. That would be the biggest one-day slump in stock market history, by more than double, besting the 777 point plunge that happened on October 29, 2008, at the high of the panic surrounding the financial crisis. The drop would translate into a 10.4% dive, and immediately send the stock market into correction territory,’ Fortune‘s Stephen Gandel reported.
- Tobias Levkovich, Citigroup’s chief U.S. equity analyst. “A win for Donald Trump in next week’s election could take a big bite out U.S. stocks, according to the latest forecast from Citi,” CNN Money reported. “In a note to clients late Thursday, the bank said the S&P 500 will fall by 3% to 5% immediately if Trump is elected. A victory by Hillary Clinton wouldn’t move stocks significantly, it predicted.”
- Macroeconomic Advisers. “If Donald Trump wins the election, U.S. stocks (and likely many other markets overseas) will almost certainly tank,” Heather Long wrote for CNN Money. “How big of a drop? Forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisors predicts an 8% fall in the U.S. A new paper out Friday from the Brookings Institute projects a 10% to 15% nosedive. You get the idea.”
While many of market watchers remain allergic to giving Trump any credit for the massive rise in the stock market, there’s no denying that the experts got the direction badly wrong prior to the election.