Special Report

What the Stock Market Did Under Every President in the Last 100 Years

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Dwight D. Eisenhower
> DJIA performance: +123.7%
> Served from: Jan. 20, 1953 – Jan. 20, 1961
> Months in office: 96
> Party affiliation: Republican

Though a Republican, President Dwight Eisenhower continued the social welfare policies of his Democratic predecessors Roosevelt and Truman. He also strengthened Social Security, raised the minimum wage, and created the largest public works initiative in American history — the Interstate Highway System.

Though his administration weathered three recessions and growing unemployment, Eisenhower’s eight years in office were marked by steady growth in the stock market, with the Dow climbing 123.7%.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

John F. Kennedy
> DJIA performance: +15.8%
> Served from: Jan. 20, 1961 – Nov. 22, 1963
> Months in office: 34
> Party affiliation: Democratic

President John Kennedy’s time in the Oval Office was marked by the geopolitical turmoil of the botched Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Some of the tumult was also economic. Determined to address inflation upon taking office, Kennedy implemented a steel price rollback (steel being a widely used raw material). The business community did not react favorably and the Dow tanked.

Despite the setback, the Dow improved overall under Kennedy’s watch. Many attribute the market rally that continued through the end of his presidency to Kennedy’s economic initiatives, which included increased minimum wage, expanded unemployment and social security benefits, more highway spending, and lower tax rates. From the day Kennedy took office until his assassination nearly three years later, the Dow climbed 15.8%.

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Lyndon B. Johnson
> DJIA performance: +26.1%
> Served from: Nov. 22, 1963 – Jan. 20, 1969
> Months in office: 62
> Party affiliation: Democratic

Along with Bill Clinton, Lyndon Johnson is one of only two post-WWII presidents to lead over steady, uninterrupted unemployment improvement. Due in part to his major policy implementations aimed at creating a “Great Society” — in addition to the escalating war in Vietnam — government hiring picked up during Johnson’s White House tenure. Under Johnson, the unemployment rate fell from 5.5% to 3.4%. Over the same period, the stock market made significant gains, with the Dow climbing 26.1%.

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Richard M. Nixon
> DJIA performance: -28.3%
> Served from: Jan. 20, 1969 – Aug. 9, 1974
> Months in office: 67
> Party affiliation: Republican

Richard Nixon, the 37th president of the United States served in tumultuous economic times. Perhaps the most significant market events were the product of his own doing. In 1971, Nixon ordered a freeze on all prices and wages in the United States for 90 days to get inflation under control. Though the policy was ultimately a failure, it initially led to a market rally that fizzled later during his term. Watergate also had considerable influence over investor sentiment. From the time Nixon was named as a Watergate conspirator in March 1974 to his resignation five months later, investor confidence was on a downward trend.

As a whole, the Nixon era was not a good time for stock market investors. The DJIA tumbled 28.3% while Nixon was in the White House.

Source: Gary Newkirk / Getty Images

Gerald R. Ford
> DJIA performance: +40.6%
> Served from: Aug. 9, 1974 – Jan. 20, 1977
> Months in office: 29
> Party affiliation: Republican

The stock market performed relatively well under President Gerald Ford, despite high unemployment and inflation. In the 29 months of Ford’s presidency, the Dow climbed by 40.6%. Under Ford, major changes came to equity markets. On May 1, 1975 — now commonly known on Wall Street as May Day — the Securities and Exchange Commission eliminated fixed commissions for stock trading. Before this change, investors all paid the same fee for every trade, no matter how large. After this change, with fees set by competition, investing became a viable option for more of the population.