Donald Trump has repeatedly taken credit for new record highs in the S&P 500. But are his claims warranted?AP/Kathy Willens

All you need is a working Twitter account to know that President Donald Trump tries to take credit every time the stock market hits a new record high.

It’s a routine that has played out in 2017 as the S&P 500 has stretched well into the ninth year of a bull market that has brought it back to unprecedented highs.

So is Trump right?

Not most of the time. But there have been moments this year during which the so-called Trump trade, or the promise of a business-friendly change in the works, has been responsible for the gains. And we might be in the middle of one right now.

Then there was a long stretch when other factors were at play.

To best assess Trump’s fluctuating influence on stocks, we’ve looked at the S&P 500 on a periodic basis. After all, each timeframe we’ve selected has its own distinct bullish story, and put together they show how the stock market benchmark has gone from one high to the next — each time being pushed by a different component.


At the beginning of each section is a chart showing the performance of an index of stocks tracking highly taxed companies, relative to the S&P 500. The measure is intended to serve as a proxy for the effect of Trump’s proposed policies on the benchmark, with the thinking being that a lowering of the corporate tax rate has long been seen as the campaign promise most likely to be passed.

If the high-tax index is outperforming, that implies a high degree of overall confidence in the Trump trade and therefore outsized influence being exerted on the S&P 500. If the gauge is underperforming (in negative territory), that implied a low degree of confidence and minimal influence.

And bear in mind that if the line veers into negative territory (which — spoiler alert — it does), that isn’t reflective of the broader stock market — it’s just the most actionable part of the Trump trade. The S&P 500 as a standalone entity has repeatedly hit new record highs all year long.

In the end, hopefully, we’ll have given you enough information to conclude for yourself whether Trump has, in fact, been as indispensable to the stock rally as he claims to be.

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