MOUNT RUSHMORE features massive, 60-foot-tall busts of celebrated presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, each chosen for his respective role in preserving or expanding the Republic. But if you were to make a Mount Rushmore for presidents based on stock market performance, none of these men would make the cut. There really was no stock market to speak of during the Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln administrations, and Teddy Roosevelt does not make the grade— at least as far as Wall Street is concerned.
It’s certainly true that the person in the White House isn’t the only factor moving the market, or even the most important one. But as we inaugurate a new president this month amid tumultuous times and a volatile stock market, it’s worth looking back at how share prices have fared under past presidents.
Below are the top five and bottom five presidents, returnwise. Note that returns listed track share prices only, and they are annualized. Leaving out dividends tends to favor more recent presidents, because over the past half-century dividends have become a smaller portion of total returns. Nor are returns adjusted for inflation, which tends to favor presidents during inflationary eras (Nixon, Carter and Ford, for example) and punish those holding office during disinflationary times (FDR, George W. Bush, Obama). Presidents from Hoover to Trump are ranked using the S&P 500 index; earlier presidents are ranked using the Dow Jones industrial average.
President: August 2, 1923 – March 4, 1929
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