Obama Inherits Battered Market; Dow Dips Below 8,000

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Wall Street's pummeling on Tuesday highlights the challenges facing President Barack Obama, who is inheriting a stock market that collapsed during predecessor George W. Bush's second term, according to a leading market tracker.

Bush's final week as president left the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Index -- as of Friday's close -- down 5.5% on an annualized basis during his second term. In combination with the 1% gain eked out during his first four years, Bush leaves office with the stock market down 2.3%, annualized, over eight years.

The devaluation of the stock gauge gives Bush the dubious distinction of being the first president of the past five to oversee any decline at all, according to Wilshire Associates.

The market's downward trend persisted Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 332.13 points, or 4%, to stand at 7,949.09, its first close below the 8,000 mark since Nov. 20.

This marked the blue-chip average's worst performance for a U.S. inauguration since the Dow was created in 1896.

Concerns about the health of financial firms weighed heavily on both the broad market and on the Dow. Shares of Bank of America Corp. dropped 29%, while Citigroup Inc. plummeted 20%.

The S&P 500 Index declined 38.28 points, or 5.3%, to 805.22, with financials again the greatest laggard, led by State Street Corp. , off 55%. PNC Financial Services Group fell 40%, and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. lost 17%.

Shares of State Street dived on worries that the financial-services firm might have to bring troubled investment vehicles onto its balance sheet. .

The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 88.47 points, or 5.8%, to 1,440.86.

In his one and only term as president, George H.W. Bush presided over a 14.5% advance in annualized returns on the DJ Wilshire 5000.

Ronald Reagan presided over an annualized gain of 12.1% in his first term and then a climb of 16.1% during his second, translating into an overall annualized rise of 14.1% when he left office in 1989.

Bill Clinton had the best results overall, at least in looking at yearly returns from the broad-market gauge. The Wilshire rose 17.7% on an annualized basis during his first term, which ended in 1997.

Of course, Clinton fared less well, in both political and Wall Street terms, during his second term. Yet the index still climbed 13.5% for a collective 15.6% during his eight years in the Oval Office.

"When you look the previous administrations' stellar returns, some people would say the extraordinary performance over 20-plus years was the biggest bull market of our lifetimes, and valuations are just coming back in line. Yet over 28 years, from the beginning of Reagan to the end of Bush 43, it's a gain of about 9.5%. It drives home the point, the sound advice to be a long-term investor," said Bob Waid, vice president at Wilshire Associates Inc.

"If you need to have cash within a five- to seven-year period or are approaching retirement, it is better not to have large-risk exposure, and equities are a risky asset class," he added.

The global equities market already is off to a less than solid start for the year. January is showing "scary similarities to last January," according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at Standard & Poor's.

Last January was one of the worst months up to that point, with global markets declining 8.39% and losing $3.28 trillion.

For the first half of this month, according to Silverblatt, the global market losses came to $1.23 trillion.


By Kate Gibson
  • CBSNews

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