Donald Trump came up with a new measure this week when he compared the wealth created by a rising stock market with the government debt. It is not clear how much the president has to do with stock valuations, but arguably his promised tax cuts may be a factor pushing the market higher.
In principle, stock prices are supposed to reflect the discounted value of future profits, so if people come to think that Trump will give corporate America more money at the expense of those who own little or no stock, it should push the market higher. This would be good news for the relatively small number of people who own large amounts of stock, but bad news for those who rely largely on wages for their income and will likely face higher taxes and/or reduced government services as a result of lower corporate tax rates.
However, even by this measure, Trump is doing poorly as the NYT pointed out. The stock markets in Japan, Germany, and France, along with many others, have risen more in the last year than the U.S. market. So it appears that Trump has been a drag on the stock market.
Also, Trump does very poorly by his metric compared with Obama. Trump blamed Obama for adding $10 trillion to the federal debt during his administration. He apparently missed the Great Recession caused by the collapse of the housing bubble which happened before Obama entered the White House. This was the major cause of the run-up in debt over the last eight years.
But if presidents get credit for an increase in stock values, then Obama's performance vastly exceeds Trump's. In October of 2009, the stock market was already up by more than 30 percent from where it had been on inauguration day, compared to less than 20 percent with Trump. Furthermore, the stock market more than doubled during President Obama's tenure, creating more than $20 trillion in wealth, this hugely exceeds the government debt added in this period, so by the Trump Metric, Obama did fantastic in his terms in office.
(For the record since people, and mostly American people, own the government debt, this is also wealth. So absolutely nothing about the Trump story makes any sense.)