Early yesterday, Donald Trump sent the U.S. stock market on a wild ride when he announced that China had called him and sought to end their ongoing trade war. Investors hate the trade war, so they went on a buying frenzy at the prospect of it ending. Then later yesterday, China announced that no such phone calls had taken place. Stock market investors were duped into pushing the Dow Jones up a couple hundred points based on, for lack of a better term, fake news.
Through his tariffs, his tweets, and now his lies about phone calls, Donald Trump keeps sending the stock market up and down in chaotic fashion. This has led to a popular debate about whether he’s doing it on purpose, so he can keep buying low and selling high. Even Andrew Gillum, the respected recent candidate for Governor of Florida, is now asking the question. This wouldn’t be the first (or the tenth) instance of Trump abusing the presidency in order to line his own pocket, but there’s more to it.
Trump is too debt-ridden and cash-poor to have anything to invest in the stock market himself, and we know that no one is willing to loan him money anymore. For that matter, his antics consistently come across as the actions an erratic guy who’s desperate to prove that he’s smarter than his fellow world leaders, better at economics than his predecessor, and inclined to blow off steam each time things go further south for him. If Trump were trying to make the market go up and down in strategically, he could do it much more effectively while being far less obvious about it.
There is nothing that suggests that Donald Trump is doing any of these things because he’s trying to manipulate the market for his own personal gain. There is, however, another possibility. What if someone who has Trump’s ear, and who is invested in the stock market, has been steering an unwitting Trump into taking erratic action at just the right times?
Keep in mind that Donald Trump barely seems to know what he’s saying or doing lately. The notion of him as master manipulator just doesn’t hold water – at least not these days. Given what we’re seeing play out, if the market is being manipulated, the most logical explanation would be that someone in Trump’s orbit is goading him into these absurd tariffs and rabid tweets. Either that, or we’re seeing Trump erratically go off the deep end without rhyme or reason, manipulating the stock market at random because he’s just that mentally incompetent, and we’re all trying too hard to find a logical explanation when there simply isn’t one.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report