Blaming Obama for the stock market crash

A Wall Street Journal columnist says the shell-shocked Dow is Obama's fault, and then tells him how to fix it. First: More Ronald Reagan, less Jimmy Carter. It gets worse from there.

By Andrew Leonard

Published February 23, 2009 10:32PM (EST)

You want to hear some fear and loathing from Wall Street? Try this blog post by "Mean Street" columnist Evan Newmark in the Wall Street Journal, "Obama's Dow 5000."

Published a few hours before the Dow closed at 7,114, its lowest mark since May 1997, Newmark's list of pointers advising Obama on how to get the stock market moving again is nothing if not timely. It is also eye-poppingly out of tune with how most of this country feels about Wall Street and the arrogant, irreponsible financial wizards who crashed the economy.

Newmark wants Obama to start sucking up to investors while acting like the bastard child of Phil Gramm and Ronald Reagan. No more Jimmy Carter-style moralizing about how the road ahead will be long and hard. "Quit moaning and go out and sell some optimism."

Oh, and rule out bank nationalization once and for all, enough already with that "populist anti-Wall Street rhetoric," abandon "liberal, Democrat pet bills," and try to work harder with the GOP.

Really, it's Obama's fault that Republicans won't join hands with the White House.

It made investors nervous that Senator Judd Gregg ditched you and that you could only come up with 3 Republican votes on the stimulus. Let's get that bipartisan thing going...

Of course, none of these measures is a guarantee that the stock market will go up. And certainly, many in your party will cry Judas.

But you urgently need to do something to shift investor sentiment. Dow 5000 is in nobody's interest. Especially not yours.

It has certainly become popular among right-wing bloggers to decree that the decline in stock market averages since Election Day is a referendum on President Obama. It's an easy jab, kind of like noting that Bill Clinton's presidency created 23 million new jobs while George W. Bush's only spawned a net gain of 3 million. But the rejoinder is even easier. The United States is suffering through the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression, and is currently shedding jobs at a rate of 500,000 or more a month. As Felix Salmon noted last week, "The fact is that prospects for the economy are much worse than they were in November. As such, it stands to reason that stock prices should be lower than they were in November."

Newmark wants Obama to "Go to New York, press the flesh and put some confidence into the markets simply by showing up." But the only thing that is going to put some confidence into these markets is actual progress on fixing the economy. And it will take more than a visit to New York to achieve that. Newmark wants Obama to stop the "class warfare." But his own column is an incitement to riot.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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