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There’s less than meets the eye to the Trump stock rally

German, French, and Japanese stocks are all doing way better.

Dow Jones Industrial Averages Closes Over 22,000 Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

One of Donald Trump’s big successes as president is that the stock market, which went up strongly during most of Barack Obama’s term in office but kind of stalled out during 2016, has gone up a lot since he took office.

Just ask him — he has tweeted at least eight times about it since October 16, often to complain that the media doesn’t give him enough credit.

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told Politico that unless Congress passes Trump’s still-nonexistent tax cut bill, the market will crash and “you’re going to see a reversal of a significant amount of these gains.”

If true, you’d expect to see the US market soaring above those of foreign countries that aren’t contemplating enormous corporate tax cuts. The truth, however, is that while American stocks really have been on a tear since Election Day, markets have risen even more sharply in Japan, Germany, and even France.

Over in the UK, meanwhile, the market hasn’t been as strong as in the United States, but it’s still up almost 10 percent.

US equities are lagging behind many other world markets

Here’s a chart comparing the performance of the S&P 500 with the performances of the benchmark Nikkei, DAX, and CAC indexes in Japan, Germany, and France. As you can see, the Trump rally, though large, is smaller than what we’ve seen in foreign markets and indeed is positively dwarfed by the bull market in Japan.

None of this makes the post-election stock market boom irrelevant by any means. It’s easy to forget these days, but during the campaign season, the conventional wisdom in liberal circles was that a Trump win would tank the economy (and the stock market) with a series of trade wars and other rash, damaging behavior. The reality is that so far, at least, Trump has governed pretty overwhelmingly as a conventional pro-business Republican and the economic recovery has kept on ticking along.

That said, the fact that stock market enthusiasm over the past year has been worldwide with the United States lagging other key countries seems like a strong indication that Trump hasn’t done anything that’s particularly successful or exciting.

If I could rigorously explain why stocks go up and down and when, I’d keep the wisdom to myself and go make millions of dollars taking advantage of my stock forecasting skills. But as a journalist, it is certainly possible to identify patterns and rule out possible explanations. For whatever reason, markets are up just about everywhere, not only in the United States. And markets generally seem to be up by more in countries with boring, competent-seeming leadership than they are in the United States.

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