The stock market votes for socialism

Proof investors like big government: Obama has overseen the biggest rally since Franklin Roosevelt

Published September 28, 2009 2:03PM (EDT)

March 2, 2009:

Barack Obama so far has had the worst stock market performance of any new president in American history... ["Ignatius Reilly,"]

September 28, 2009:

No new president since Franklin Roosevelt has seen a bigger rally than Obama. [Bloomberg News]

It would be wise not to make too much of this. Sure -- stock market performance during Roosevelt's first term was spectacular -- up 168 percent. But his second term wasn't so good: down 40 percent. Just because the summer was very, very good for Obama, as measured by the stock market, doesn't mean the winter will be equally rosy. Last week's generally gloomy economic data reports certainly suggest that euphoria is misplaced. The stock market is also a bad proxy for widely distributed economic prosperity, though I'm sure the millions of Americans with 401Ks and other mutual fund holdings are breathing a little bit easier right now than they were a year ago at this time.

But I can't resist poking at one point: Obama's right-wing critics wasted no time in declaring that the stock market's poor performance from Inauguration Day through March had to be interpreted as a rejection of "socialism." And to this day, the yammering about Obama's "socialist" policies continues.

But the market, so far, just doesn't seem to mind. Just as the market didn't mind when Franklin Roosevelt pushed through the closest approximation of socialism that the United States has ever seen: The New Deal.

By Andrew Leonard

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

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