The Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost about 6% this month before trading began Monday. Friday, between 11 and 11:10 a.m. the Dow dropped more than 300 points, or about 1.2%, and by day’s end, it had sunk by 600.

What caused the markets to tank that much that fast? At 10:59 a.m., tweeter-in-chief Trump fired off another of his regal edicts ordering “our great American companies … to immediately start looking for an alternative to China…” Holy Command Economy, Batman! Communist dictatorships make decisions for businesses, which in democracies run themselves.


Trump found humor in the market’s running off a cliff, tweeting “The Dow is down 573 points perhaps on the news that Representative Seth Moulton, whoever that may be, has dropped out of the 2020 Presidential Race!” Not many else thought it a laughing matter.

The stock market’s turbulent Friday was the capstone to a turbulent Trump week, in which he channeled his inner Harry Potter, declaring himself the “Chosen One.” Not content with that, he accepted the title, “King of Israel” from one of his adoring fans. Wasn’t the revolutionary war all about ridding ourselves of kings?

The Hill, a respected conservative news source, said of his actions, “the president’s dizzying performance this week left even some of his staunchest allies scratching their heads.” They were referring not only to his messianic Chosen One proclamation, but also to his topsy-turvy reversals on gun control, a bizarre soliloquy about buying Greenland, followed by gratuitous insults of Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, voicing an ages-old anti-Semitic trope, and silence on Hong Kong’s street protests and the terrible fires in the Amazon rainforest. And then there’s the economy.

The stock markets hate uncertainty. Nothing frightens investors more than not knowing how the government might change fiscal policy or act unpredictably; last week, Mr. Trump’s statements were all over the map. He appointed Jerome Powell chair of the Federal Reserve in February, 2018 and has regretted it ever since, as Powell refused to cut interests rates at a time the economy didn’t need another economic sugar high. Trump unfailingly assails people who put the country’s well-being over his. He wasted no time comparing his own appointee to Chinese dictator Xi, tweeting “My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay [sic] Powell or Chairman Xi?” in response to which, the market shrank more than a frightened soufflé. The Chinese premier and Trump fired salvos back and forth across the Pacific in the latest fusillade of tariff hikes, further distressing the Dow Jones.

What a mood swing from Trump’s early morning tweet, “the Economy is strong and good, whereas the rest of the world is not doing so well.” I’m sure the rest of the G7 were thrilled to be told they didn’t quite measure up to the president’s ego-laden standards.

When the economy cools off, as it inevitably will, Trump’s shaky reelection chances also sink. Realizing that, the president dispatched his loyalists to tell us the economy is doing hunky-dory, and never-you-mind about those silly economic indicators. Alas, his rhetoric is at odds with his actions. Those tariffs have reached the point where American importers of Chinese products will start passing those extra costs on to you and me. That means we will be buying less, which means the economic numbers will sag. So, Trump decided to delay imposing some of his tax increases on consumer spending until after the Christmas shopping season.

The Fed doesn’t need to artificially stimulate a strong, growing economy. When things are good, it’s time to reduce the annual deficit, which because of Trump’s ill-advised welfare-for-billionaires tax cut is closing in on one trillion dollars. During his time in office, the national debt has grown more than 9% to $22 trillion when it should have been shrinking. According to NPR, the interest on the national debt is around a billion dollars a day. Despite our nation’s tremendous economic power, that unproductive debt chokes economic growth much, much more than our trade imbalance with China, which is not to say that China doesn’t need to reform its own trade-cum-industrial espionage act.

No American wants to see our country and our citizens hurting economically, or in any other way. For Trump to tweet that Democrats are rooting for a recession to hurt his reelection chances is trying to paint his political opponents as disloyal. He would be well-advised to listen to former Republican Utah Rep. Mia Love, who said, “When you are President of the United States, you represent all Americans.” Today would be a good time for him to start.

Mitch Edelman writes from Finksburg. Email him at