Is the president short the market?
After doing everything he could to make stock prices go up, has he decided "enough with the stock market, now it is time for a new thing to brag about, humbling China?"
Sometimes you have to wonder because right now if you wanted to drive stocks lower you would be attacking the Chinese completely out of nowhere the same way you would slap duties on steel and aluminum on every country so no one has any idea what to do or say.
Think about the steel progression. The steel companies argue, correctly, that the Chinese aren't dumping in our country. They are dumping everywhere but in our country, but then it gets to us and hurts our remaining producers.
So we decide to slap a duty on everyone to be sure the Chinese steel doesn't get here.
The steel stocks jump as they should on this good news for them. Then it turns out that the whole world is mad at Trump and Trump doesn't like everyone to be mad at him so he appoints Larry Kudlow who is incredibly nice and can explain to a lot of people how Trump's doing the right thing, something that Gary Cohn increasingly couldn't do.
Next thing you know the steel tariffs are walked back everywhere and the stock of Nucor (NUE) , our largest producer, is now lower than when the tariffs were first announced.
Now he's going after China in a totally incoherent way that seems meant to have a trade war, not a change in behavior. Our country as a whole has not been treated fairly by the Chinese government. Everyone knows that. But you have to be more clever than the Chinese government to extract what you want. You can't just threaten and then slap on tariffs with no bargaining being done. What does that accomplish?
Except knock down our stock market, that is.
That's why I ask, facetiously, what happened to the president and his affinity toward being graded by the stock market? Did it just end? Because if you didn't know any better you would be doing precisely what he is doing -- firing people, undoing policies from last week, antagonizing the Chinese to accomplish nothing. What's next?
Once you abandon the gauge of new highs, once you realize that you can keep being president even if the averages go down, and once you realize no one really cares where stocks go -- which is what I am gathering that he is learning -- then anything can and will happen including a much steeper decline than this if he doesn't stop doing unpredictable things that are bad even for the businesses he's trying to save.