Some Dow Jones Industrial Average statistics, by United States President

The previous President of the United States, Donald Trump, had tweeted several times about the stock market: see President Trump tweets about the stock market for a list.

Since I look at data for a living I thought I would take a look at how the stock market has actually performed historically, broken up by President.

I had some trouble initially deciding what benchmark to use to measure stock market performance. I finally settled on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, even though it is not a particularly good indicator, because:

  • President Trump cited it directly.
  • The historical data goes back quite a long time, which increases the number of presidents I can compare.

I downloaded the DJIA data from https://stooq.com/q/d/?s=^dji and I hand-copied the US presidents from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Presidents_of_the_United_States.

Then I wrote a small PowerShell script (~150 lines) which ran through both lists and generated the output below.

I omitted Presidents whose terms did not overlap the Dow Jones data I had, which started during Grover Cleveland’s second term, and continued on to the day before I ran the script.

I calculated the annualized return using the following formula:
return = ((last price) / (first price))1 / (time in years)

Return Record highs MTTRH*
Grover Cleveland
1896-05-27 to 1897-03-04
2% 8 35
William McKinley
1897-03-04 to 1901-09-13
11% 70 24
Theodore Roosevelt
1901-09-16 to 1909-03-04
2% 36 76
William Taft
1909-03-04 to 1913-03-04
-0% 0 N/A
Woodrow Wilson
1913-03-04 to 1921-03-04
3% 66 44
Warren Harding
1921-03-04 to 1923-08-02
7% 0 N/A
Calvin Coolidge
1923-08-02 to 1929-03-04
25% 171 12
Herbert Hoover
1929-03-04 to 1933-03-03
-36% 25 58
Franklin Roosevelt
1933-03-15 to 1945-04-12
9% 0 N/A
Harry Truman
1945-04-12 to 1953-01-20
8% 0 N/A
Dwight Eisenhower
1953-01-20 to 1961-01-20
10% 142 21
John Kennedy
1961-01-20 to 1963-11-22
4% 30 35
Lyndon Johnson
1963-11-22 to 1969-01-20
5% 112 17
Richard Nixon
1969-01-20 to 1974-08-09
-3% 16 127
Gerald Ford
1974-08-09 to 1977-01-20
9% 0 N/A
Jimmy Carter
1977-01-20 to 1981-01-20
-0% 0 N/A
Ronald Reagan
1981-01-20 to 1989-01-20
11% 153 19
George H. W. Bush
1989-01-20 to 1993-01-20
10% 56 26
Bill Clinton
1993-01-20 to 2001-01-19
16% 266 11
George W. Bush
2001-01-22 to 2009-01-20
-4% 56 52
Barack Obama
2009-01-20 to 2017-01-20
12% 121 24
Donald Trump
2017-01-20 to 2021-01-20
12% 126 12
Joe Biden
2021-01-20 to 2021-06-18
19% 20 8
Overall
1896-05-27 to 2021-06-18
6% 1474 31

* Mean time to record high

I will mostly leave the interpretation of this summary to you, dear reader. Nevertheless, I will hazard some observations:

  • The Dow Jones generally rises, at an average rate of 6% a year (though it is bursty.)
  • Record highs are quite common, happening on average once a month (though this is also bursty.)
  • Under President Trump the Dow Jones had an annual return of 12%. Compare to Calvin Coolidge’s 25%, Herbert Hoover’s -36%, and the overall 6%.
  • Under President Trump reached a record high about every 12 days. Compare to Calvin Coolidge’s and Bill Clinton’s about-every-11-or-12-days, Franklin Roosevelt’s and Harry Truman’s (combined) zero highs over 20 years, and the overall about every 31 days.
  • Under President Biden, so far, the annualized return is 19% and we are seeing a record high about every eight days.

EDIT: uploaded script and a snapshot of the source data to GitHub https://github.com/mvaneerde/blog/tree/master/dow-jones-by-president

(sporadic edits to refresh data)

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