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Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

U.S. stock markets hit record highs during President Trump's time in office, but mostly underperformed his predecessor.

By the numbers: The stock market selloff that followed the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic wiped out three and a half years' worth of market gains for Trump. As of March 23, 2020, the S&P 500 had lost 1.5% since Trump's first day in office.

  • But thanks to the 70% rally that has taken place since then, the country's 45th president was able to finish his term with a more impressive market record than most modern presidents.

Between the lines: Obama inherited a financial crisis and was thus starting from a much lower level than was Trump, who inherited a bull market. During Obama's first term, both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average had higher percentage gains than they did under Trump, although the Nasdaq rose more during Trump's first term.

  • Obama's stock returns were aided greatly by the S&P's massive 40% fall in 2008 that pushed the Fed to drop interest rates to near 0% and Congress to pass what was then the largest stimulus package on record, the $831 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  • Clinton's dramatic stock market gains were powered in part by an easing interest rate cycle from the Fed, which cut rates to the lowest they had been in 20 years — 4.4% — at the start of his term.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Jan 29, 2021 - Economy & Business

SEC says it will "closely review" restrictions on Reddit-fueled stocks

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday warned Robinhood and other brokerages that it will "closely review" actions they took on Thursday that prevented investors from buying stock in GameStop and other popular Reddit-fueled stocks.

Why it matters: The move from Robinhood generated anger across the political spectrum and among small investors who wanted to participate in one of the most exciting stock-market trades of the moment.

Jan 29, 2021 - Podcasts

When investing goes viral

You've likely heard the headlines this week about the stock market mania around GameStop. But this isn't just about the stock market. It's a kind of populist uprising borne of the Internet.

  • Plus, what’s behind GM’s big electric vehicle announcement.
  • And, the new Wild West is in outer space.
Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

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