Stock market coronavirus panic means little for Americans without savings

Falling stock charts superimposed over digital map of the world


Andrew L. Yarrow

Monday’s 1,031-point stock market plunge certainly brought panic to financiers, traders, policymakers and investors. But did the long stock market rise parallel the fortunes of America’s real economy?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average skyrocketed by more than 20,000 points since its low in March 2009, enriching big investors and enabling President Donald Trump to claim that “our economy is the best it has ever been.” Someone who invested $10 million in an index fund in 2009 would now have more than $50 million. Not bad. Unfortunately, what’s happening on Wall Street has little or no day-to-day relevance to most Americans.

“Journalists are obsessed with the stock market,” says Jacob Hacker, director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University. “But for most Americans, it’s a side show in their economic lives. What really matters to them is the security of their jobs and health care, and the amount they have to pay for big-ticket items like housing and education.”


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