As the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States topped 7,500 on Wednesday morning, fears of an economic collapse fueled another massive drop on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,826 points by 1:20 p.m. EDT, reaching 19,576, according to MarketWatch. This is the lowest level since January 20, 2017, the day Donald Trump was inaugurated.
Trump has frequently boasted of the record-high stock market during his presidency. As recently as Saturday on his Twitter account he wrote, in all capital letters, “BIGGEST STOCK MARKET RISE IN HISTORY YESTERDAY!” He began touting the record stock market numbers less than four weeks after his inauguration and has repeatedly tweeted and spoken about the stock market gains under his administration since then.
When Trump was inaugurated, the Dow stood at 19,827, meaning that when the Dow dropped below that number, all of the gains made since Trump took office were wiped out.
“The stock market is not the economy, and presidents not responsible for either in most circumstances — although delaying a pandemic response affects both,” Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman said on his Twitter account Wednesday morning. But Krugman added that because Trump “likes to measure himself” by stock market numbers, those figures are relevant today.
The drop in the Dow by 1:20 p.m. EDT was a fall of 8.47 percent, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index — which measures the performance of 500 major companies, while the Dow measures 30 — plunged more than 5 percent, according to a New York Times report.
Wednesday’s low came after a better day on Tuesday, as markets jumped on Trump’s announcement of a $1 trillion economic stimulus package, as The Times reported. However, the package remained stalled in the United States Senate on Wednesday morning, reportedly due to objections from Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul.
Trump administration Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Tuesday also announced a plan to send money directly to Americans in the form of immediately cashable checks to alleviate the financial impact of the coronavirus economic crash. While Mnuchin said the checks would be dispatched “in the next two weeks,” as of Wednesday the administration offered no specifics on the amount of the checks or any further timetable for sending the money.
The Times, however, reported that the Trump administration proposal would consist of two rounds of checks, first in April and a second in May. The total amount would be $500 billion. With an adult population of approximately 280 million in the U.S., the amount disbursed to every American adult would likely be less than $2,000.