The U.S. economy is subject to complex, interconnected forces too innumerable for any one person to account for or anticipate. Still, when it comes to the health of the economy, the buck often stops at the president’s desk.
While by no means a comprehensive measure of economic health, the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average stock index is often used as a proxy for overall economic prosperity. The best known stock market index, the Dow tracks the value of 30 public company stocks that together represent all major industries, except for transportation and utilities. Though the companies that make up the DJIA change over the years, the index’s purpose and utility does not.
The Dow’s performance has varied under each president. Under a handful of administrations, the DJIA fell considerably. Under the leadership of others, the Dow more than tripled.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the change in the DJIA under every president since the end of WWI. The Dow’s performance was measured by calculating the percentage change of non-inflation adjusted month-end closing values from each president’s first month in office to his last.
The Dow’s performance is not always directly linked to decisions made by the sitting commander in chief. More often, the direction of the DJIA is attributable to factors beyond the president’s control, from geopolitical incidents and power shifts to decisions made by the Federal Reserve Bank or even a previous president.