Trump’s stock market braggadocio neglects a key constituency that helped elect him

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Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

  • The stock market rally benefits mostly wealthy Americans, according to a report from Credit Suisse.
  • Just over half of Americans own any stock at all, and the bulk of holdings accrue to top earners.
  • “Only higher net worth households tend to own appreciating financial assets.”

President Donald Trump is fond of pointing to the stock market’s rally in the last year as a sign of his administration’s success.

Never mind that the increase in share prices started in March 2009, in the wake of a historic financial crisis, and maintained solid momentum under President Barack Obama before marching to new records under Trump.

Regardless of who gets credit, the president should be cautious about boasting of Wall Street’s rally as if it were equally beneficial to all Americans.

The reality is much different: “Only higher net worth households tend to own appreciating financial assets,” says a new report from Credit Suisse.

Just over half of Americans own any stock at all, and most of the holdings are concentrated at the very top of the income distribution, as the following chart shows in stark clarity.

Stock holdings by income

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Credit Suisse

“Above the 90th percentile of net worth, around 70% of families had some equity exposure, but for households between the 50th and 75th percentile, the share of equity ownership was below 20% in 2016. Ownership went down for all groups after the crisis, but again the decline is most noticeable for less-wealthy households,” the bank’s economists wrote.

So before the president goes around bragging about the market, he should remember his audience. It may play better with the Mar-a-Lago crowd than at one of his signature “campaign-style” rallies aimed at working class voters.