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Nate Jackson / Dec. 7, 2018

Main Street vs. Wall Street

While the stock market has been increasingly volatile, the overall economy is quite strong.

One of the reasons Donald Trump was elected president was because Barack Obama stewarded eight years of economic stagnation and Americans needed a change. True, Obama was not president when the financial crisis caused the Great Recession, but his policies ensured it was the weakest recovery on record. On the other hand, the Trump administration’s extraordinary record has the economy growing at a healthy pace.

Growth doesn’t come without growing pains, however.

The presidential contrast comes to mind with this week’s economic news. Today’s job numbers were underwhelming, with only 155,000 jobs created in November. In context, though, the headline unemployment rate can’t go much lower than its current 3.7%, so a slowdown in job creation is to be expected. Still, there’s a bright side. As The Washington Post reports, “Heightened competition [for employees] seems to be driving up wages after years of lagging since the Great Recession.”

GDP is expected to exceed 3% growth for the year — something not seen in any of Obama’s eight years. According to economic analyst Mark Hamrick, “Most measures of the U.S. economy have been holding up quite nicely.”

That doesn’t mean all is well. The stock market has endured volatile swings lately as uncertainty about global trade and Trump’s tariffs rattle investors. Now, we’re not part of the investor class and we don’t read market tea leaves, but that too brings a contrast with Obama. He talked about being “for the little guy,” yet during his tenure only Wall Street “fat cats” made bank. The market soared on his watch — Wall Street did better than fine — while Main Street suffered an economic malaise brought about by higher taxes, onerous regulation, and income redistribution galore. Millions of Americans are invested for retirement, so what happens on Wall Street certainly does affect Main Street. But by contrast, Trump, who’s supposedly only “for the fat cats,” is overseeing an economy that truly is helping Main Street even if Wall Street has to sort through some uncertainty.

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