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The Best and Worst Presidents (According to the Stock Market)

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Mount Rushmore features massive 60-foot-tall busts of celebrated presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, each chosen for their respective roles in preserving or expanding the Republic.

But if you were to make a Mount Rushmore for presidents based on stock market performance, none of these men would make the cut. There really was no stock market to speak of during the Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln administrations, and Teddy Roosevelt ranks as one of the worst-performing presidents of the past 130 years – at least as far as Wall Street is concerned.

Just for grins, let’s consider what a “stock market Mount Rushmore” might look like. (Yes, a president’s actions aren’t the only thing that moves the stock market, but in many cases throughout history, the commander in chief’s decisions over time significantly contributed to how equities performed.) While we’re at it, we’ll rank every president that we can realistically include based on the available data – and that data includes a few caveats below.*


The following is a ranking of every president since Benjamin Harrison (who, sneak preview, did not do very well) by stock market performance, in order from worst to best.

SEE ALSO: 101 Best Dividend Stocks for 2019 and Beyond

* Returns data are price only (not including dividends), which tends to favor more recent presidents. Over the past half-century, dividends have become a smaller portion of total returns due to their unfavorable tax treatment. Data is not adjusted for inflation. This will tend to reward presidents of inflationary times (Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, etc.) and punish presidents of disinflationary or deflationary times (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, etc.) Presidents from Hoover to the present are ranked using the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, whereas earlier presidents were ranked using the Dow Jones Industrial Average due to data availability.


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