On Feb. 25, while public health experts were warning of the possibility of a global, life-altering pandemic, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told Americans to go out and buy stocks.
“The virus story is not going to last forever,” Kudlow said on CNBC. “To me, if you are an investor out there and you have a long-term point of view, I would suggest very seriously taking a look at the market, the stock market, that is a lot cheaper than it was a week or two ago.”
“This thing will run its course,” he added.
As we now know, the rocky market in late February wasn’t a blip but the early stages of a full-on crash. Most of the stock market gains made under Trump’s presidency have been wiped out by the coronavirus sell-off.
So how would you have made out so far if you followed Kudlow’s advice?
As of end of day Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 26% since market close on Feb. 25. So if you had pumped $1,000 into an index fund tracking the Dow when Kudlow said prices looked attractive, that same investment would now be worth around $742.
Kudlow prefaced his advice for those with a long-term point of view. Fair enough. You haven’t lost that money yet if you haven’t sold the stock. If history is any indication, the market will come back up near those record highs ― maybe in six months, maybe in six years. Nobody knows. Not even former CNBC hosts.
But with the market cratering, the Dow has been lower than it was on Feb. 25 every day since but one, meaning stocks in general have only gotten cheaper. (To be clear: We are not telling you to buy stocks right now.)
You would have done marginally worse if you’d jumped into the market a day earlier, when the president himself suggested doing so. On Feb. 24, Trump tweeted that the “Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA” and that “the Stock Market [is] starting to look very good to me!”
Even the smartest investors can’t say with certainty that a dip is just a dip and not something more foreboding ― not even the president’s second son, Eric Trump.
As investors continued to sell in late February, the younger Trump took to Twitter to give the stock market a thumbs up to his roughly 3 million followers, calling it a “great time to buy stocks or into your 401K.” He said he would be “all in.”
Eric Trump added, “let’s see if I’m right.” (He later deleted the tweet.)
The Dow has fallen 21% since then.
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