Donald Trump so permeates the collective consciousness of the country that it is hard to imagine now living in a world without him. But there is one place where the president seems to be relatively invisible—the U.S. stock market.
The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq have set record highs in the months after Trump’s election. On Thursday, the Dow has its tenth consecutive record closing in a row, at 20,810. This is happening, despite the fact that investors seemed terrified of a Trump presidency in the general election campaign. Trump came into office promising to antagonize America’s allies and economic partners while crushing the international establishment. None of this is particularly favorable to multinational corporations. Even worse, Trump’s first few weeks in office were a maelstrom of hasty lawmaking and furious backtracking, exactly the sort of behavior one might consider a threat to the all-important “certainty” that markets ostensibly crave. What’s more, mainstream economists are nearly united in their certainty that Trump’s core policies, like scrapping free trade agreements while severely limiting immigration, would be bad for the country.
Why, then, are investors behaving as though things are looking up?
First, before starting on Trump, one must acknowledge that the stock market’s upswing is nothing new. It is rising now for the same reason it has been rising since 2009, which is that the economy has been sneakily strong. GDP growth hasn’t budged much from its homeostatic 2 percent rate. But unemployment and energy prices are low, and wage growth has been decent for two years. Surely some of the growth in the last few months reflects a confidence that American consumers are doing better with each passing quarter.