The most hated bull market in history continues to astonish the bears and proponents of sound, economic principles. After flirting with a critical psychological barrier, the venerable Dow Jones Industrial Average finally popped over the 23,000-point benchmark on Wednesday. The obvious question after Dow 23K is, what next?
It’s been a remarkable year for the equity markets. When then-candidate Donald Trump won the historic 2016 election, volatile futures pricing indicated a sharp reversal of fortune. However, the pessimism was short-lived. As the current administration forged through various liberal attacks, it quietly inspired confidence in the economy and in turn, the Dow Jones index.
The momentum shift that eventually sparked Dow 23K is nothing short of remarkable. Year-to-date, the benchmark index is up16.5%, while from the second-half of 2017, the Dow is up 8.2%. Since election night, “America’s index” gained an astonishing 26.3%.
But what’s behind this “melt-up” in the Dow Jones? Below are three reasons why the equity markets continue to surprise us.
By now, no one should underestimate the power of Trump tower. It was there that the 45th President of the United States devised his plan and announced his decision to run for the highest office in the land. Many mocked him, thinking this was nothing more than a publicity stunt. They were proven wrong — dead wrong.
Sometimes, all you need to catalyze change is the power of personality, and there’s none more dynamic and influential as Trump. It’s no wonder that some of the top names in the Dow Jones benefit directly from the administration’s economic agenda, such as Caterpillar (ex. build that wall!). Many are also gambling on an improving consumer economy, hence the run-up in credit card companies.
While Trump will gladly take credit for the recent Dow record, the catalysts go beyond him. After all, our President has been in office less than one year — that’s just not enough time to spark wholesale change in a saturated and extremely-mature economy such as ours. The reality is that Trump benefitted strongly from excellent timing.
Dow 23K didn’t occur in a vacuum. Instead, prior administrations played their roles — to Trump’s chagrin, of course. But without the 2008 global financial meltdown, and the Keynesian “money-printing” experiment that President Obama, via Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke, waged in response, the Dow record would not have happened.
No Net Weaknesses
Yes, the Dow Jones has its laggards. But not too many of them exist. The vast majority of the 30 indexed companies pulled their weight to make Dow 23K a reality. Another Dow record, say 25,000 points, is surely right around the corner. This is so because the benchmark has no “net weaknesses.”
Look at this year’s laggards. Most of them are involved in either energy markets or manufacturing. For the former, cyclical winds can push the sector into bullish or bearish territory on a moment’s notice. For the latter, companies like IBM are weak now, but may be tomorrow’s stalwarts.
IBM in particular invests heavily into cloud computing and the blockchain. They’re steadily shifting away from the legacy businesses, and focusing on emerging sectors like Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). If they play their cards right, IBM can shift their laggard status into leader.