How much has Trump helped US stocks to rally?


By David Randall

NEW YORK – U.S. President Donald Trump may give himself credit for the performance of the U.S. stock market during his term, but only around a third of Americans agree, according to a Reuters poll.

Trump has repeatedly highlighted on Twitter and to reporters the stock market’s stunning run-up, making it part of his case for re-election this November. The benchmark S&P 500, which cratered in February and March when coronavirus hit the U.S. economy, has squeaked into positive territory for the year to date and is trading less than 5% below its record intra-day high, hit on Feb. 19.

“I was honored to see that the stock market… set a record in a short period of time,” Trump said in March, before the coronavirus pandemic fully hit the U.S. economy.

The poll of 1,005 people, conducted last week, showed 34% thought the market had performed better than it otherwise would have due to Trump’s policies. The results showed a split along party lines, with 65% of those who identify as Republican agreeing, versus only 15% of those who identified as Democrat.

A higher percentage thought the opposite, with 41% saying the market performed worse due to Trump’s policies. Of those who identified as Democrat, 58% agreed and of those that identified Republican, 13% agreed.

A quarter of respondents said his policies had not impacted the market.

In answers to a second question, 39% of respondents said that Trump has focused on boosting the stock market “even if it has hurt regular workers.” Of those who identified as Democrat, 63% agreed, while for those who identified as Republican, 14% agreed.

Only 8% of respondents said Trump focused on helping regular workers, “even if it has hurt stock prices.” Of those who identified as Republican, 15% agreed, while of those who identified as Democrat, 5% agreed.

Just over a quarter, 26%, of all respondents said he focused on helping both stocks and regular workers.

Trump’s Democrat opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, has attacked Trump on the issue of the markets.

“Throughout this crisis, Donald Trump has been almost singularly focused on the stock market: the Dow and NASDAQ; not you, not your families,” Biden said this month in a speech near his birthplace of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

The poll comes as the benchmark S&P 500 has staged a nearly 44% comeback from its March lows, thanks in part to unprecedented monetary support from the Federal Reserve and a $2 trillion stimulus package from Congress.

Those gains, however, are unlikely to translate into new jobs, according to Citi global markets strategist Matt King and Catherine L. Mann, global chief economist at Citigroup.

“How much does putting another 1,000 points on the S&P really generate in terms of increased employment — especially when you are starting from what were already close to record highs pre-COVID-19?” they noted.

An analysis of 2016 Federal Reserve data by Edward Wolff, an economics professor at New York University, said that 84% of stocks owned by U.S. households are held by the wealthiest 10% of Americans, limiting the power of a stock market rally to turn into broad gains in household wealth.

(Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Megan Davies and Dan Grebler)

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