This week’s cover story on Bloomberg Businessweek contains a picture of President Obama with the caption, “Business tips from the ‘anti-business’ president.” Inside is a wide-ranging interview with the President on business and the economy. While the performance of the stock market is mentioned briefly in the opening, its last mention is word 72 of an approximately 5,000-word interview. While there are any number of reasons why equities are given a short shrift in the interview, it says a lot about the political/social mood today that President Obama would rather talk about other aspects of the economy than the stock market. True, there are plenty of other positives to highlight (fourth longest economic expansion since at least 1900, a record string of monthly job growth, new high in auto sales, etc), but for any other President in the last several decades, you can bet that if the stock market did well during their presidency, they would talk about it. But in an environment where an increasingly large percentage of Americans don’t trust, don’t care, or don’t have any money invested in the stock market, it has become a bit of a political hot potato.
The reality, though, is that equities have done exceptionally well under the tenure of President Obama. Having been in office for just over 2,700 days now, the chart below compares the performance of the DJIA under President Obama’s tenure to the same duration for every other President since 1900. (If a President’s time in office was less than 2,700 days, we included their entire Presidency.) As shown in the chart, the DJIA’s performance of 120.6% during President Obama’s first 2,700 days ranks as the sixth best of any US President since 1900, just behind Reagan (+121.1%) and comfortably ahead of Truman, who at 74.4% is far behind. Looking at the way things stand, by the end of his entire tenure in office, President Obama could conceivably surpass Reagan and Eisenhower in terms of returns and finish in the top four for his entire time in office. While the DJIA was up 126.5% at this point in FDR’s Presidency, he had the benefit of four extra years in office and by the end of his tenure, the DJIA was up nearly 200%. President Obama can thank the 22nd Amendment for that!
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