Donald Trump Is Watching U.S. Stock Markets Wipe the Gains Made During His Presidency

President Donald Trump is a keen watcher of the U.S. stock markets and has touted their record highs as a measure of his success in the White House.

Now, as the coronavirus pandemic tears through the global economy, and with questions surrounding the adequacy of his administration's response to the health emergency, Trump is watching those stock market gains wiped out in an election year.

Stock markets have fallen sharply in recent weeks over concerns that the global economy will enter recession and company finances take a large hit because of the coronavirus. Lockdowns, quarantines and other containment measures are causing major problems for businesses.

But inaction or a sluggish response also threatens to prolong the damage caused by the coronavirus outbreak, leaving governments with a difficult balance to hold. Overreacting carries significant economic costs. Underreacting means more people will die.

On Thursday, both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average marked their worst days since 1987. The previous evening, Trump had addressed the nation about the coronavirus outbreak and his administration's efforts to tackle it.

The S&P 500 index is sitting at 2,480.64 prior to the day starting on Friday morning. On Trump's inauguration day in 2017, it sat at 2,271.31, meaning a fall of 8.4 percent from today would take it back to where it started as the current president entered office.

The Dow Jones has an even shorter fall to make that same journey. Pre-trading on Friday the Dow Jones is at 21,200.62. On inauguration day it was at 19,827.25 so only a 6.4 percent decline is required to wipe all of the Trump presidency's gains.

This week, the Federal Reserve announced an emergency cut to interest rates in response to the coronavirus threat. Trump is also in talks with Congress about a stimulus package to support Americans and the economy through the financial turbulence.

But critics of the Trump administration accuse it of reacting too slowly, including delays to the testing of potential cases and in making containment efforts, and the president downplayed the coronavirus in a tweet comparing it to seasonal flu, despite expert warnings that it is more lethal.

"The policy flops are mounting," Ryan Sweet, director of real-time economics for Moody's Analytics, wrote in a note to clients on Thursday, The Washington Post reported, as investors continue to panic over the response to coronavirus.

Back on February 11, Trump tweeted: "New Stock Market RECORD. Congratulations, spend your money wisely. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!!!!!" Eight days later, he wrote: "Highest Stock Market In History, By Far!"

And on February 24, just as coronavirus began to take hold on U.S. soil, Trump tweeted: "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!"

Stocks have now entered a bear market after eleven years of growth. A bull market is a run of value growth fueled by optimism that it will continue. A bear market, however, is when the value drops by more than 20 percent in a short period of time.

The bull market in U.S. stocks has run since March 2009 at the end of the financial crisis.

U.S. stock markets Trump S&P 500 Dow
The closing numbers are displayed after the closing bell of the Dow Industrial Average at the New York Stock Exchange on March 12, 2020 in New York. The Dow suffered its worst session since 1987 on March 12, 2020, plunging 10 percent as emergency measures by central banks failed to douse mounting recession fears due to the coronavirus. BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images