President Trump Is Acting Just Like JFK

At his inauguration, President John F. Kennedy famously said: “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

It’s probably his best-known quote. Those words inspired many to do great things, including putting a man on the moon.

But stock market historians remember the second time Kennedy used those words.

Fifteen months after his inspiring address, Kennedy said: “Some time ago, I asked each American to consider what he would do for his country, and I asked the steel companies. In the last 24 hours, we had their answer.”

Their answer, according to Kennedy, was “a wholly unjustifiable and irresponsible defiance of the public interest.”

In an April 1962 press conference, he criticized “a tiny handful of steel executives whose pursuit of private power and profit exceeds their sense of public responsibility.”


Before Kennedy was finished, he noted that the executives had “utter contempt” for their country. The stock market reacted quickly to these words.

History Repeats
Kennedy’s press conference sparked a bear market.

Traders were concerned. A president was threatening an important industry. In the next nine weeks, the S&P 500 Index fell 22.6%.

History Repeats

You probably realize that this isn’t just a trip down memory lane. There’s an analogy with today’s market action.

President Donald Trump set his sight on Amazon. He argues the internet retailer is hurting “towns, cities and states throughout the U.S.”

It’s not just about retail. Trump also tweets about the Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. It’s a frequent target of Trump’s “#fakenews” hashtag attacks.

Trump’s anger seems directed at Bezos.

Like Kennedy, Trump’s attack is personal. And this is unlikely to be good for the stock market.

History Repeats

Trump’s attack, like Kennedy’s, accelerated in the spring of a midterm election year. History says this could be bearish for the stock market.

The next chart shows the Trump market has been closely tracking the Kennedy market.

This is a chart of the S&P 500 Index. The starting point for the two lines is the month of the election in 1960 and in 2016. So far, Trump’s market is stronger than the Kennedy market.

The close fit of the two lines tells us to expect stock market weakness in the coming months. But this market shouldn’t fall as much as the 1962 market.

That’s because Kennedy went beyond words.

Some of Kennedy’s actions were aggressive, but legal. Department of Defense contracts went to steel companies with lower prices. Congress threatened antitrust hearings against the steel industry.

Some actions were questionable.

Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the president’s younger brother, sent FBI agents to reporters’ homes in the middle of the night. The agents wanted to know about conversations the reporters had with the steel executives. There were threats of IRS audits.

So far, Trump is more restrained than Kennedy. Safeguards, in theory, prevent the politicization of the FBI and IRS. It’s unlikely these agencies would break, or even bend, the law for Trump.

But a president’s careless comment can still spark a bear market. Kennedy learned that lesson. Now, the risk of Trump learning that lesson is high.


Michael Carr, CMT

Editor, Peak Velocity Trader

  • dchrist81

    1962 was no wave election, despite the bear market.

    Democrats lost only 4 seats in the house,_1962

    … and actually gained 4 seats in the senate,_1962

    Similarly, the media narrative about a “blue wave” coming in 2018 is overblown hype, largely a deliberate hoax being perpetrated the Trump-hating agents of the Democrat-media complex. Republicans have such a strong record of improving business conditions with critically necessary regulation reform and tax reform that Democrats will not be able to repeal President Trump’s tremendously beneficial tax cuts. The market is excessively pessimistic about the Democrats’ threat to the competitiveness of American businesses, but they need not be. The much-hyped “blue wave” will not materialize and another massive relief rally after Democrats are defeated in November is the more likely scenario.

  • romans8

    no mention of JFK and the deep state enemy from within? Like JFK, Trump knows the secret dealings of our ‘7th floor ‘ shadowy government,paperclip, monarch, the Awans and all the rest of the treasonous machinations and the integrity vacuum and entrenched corruption at the CIA,FBI and DOJ under 4 decades of greed and perversion is destroying our very nation. and while the swamp may appear to be draining Trump, things are not always as they seem. Hopefully he avoids JFK’s tragic end

  • romans8

    “The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings…Our way of life is under attack. Those who make themselves our enemy are advancing around the globe…no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of “clear and present danger,” then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent…For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence–on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed.”
    ― John F. Kennedy

  • romans8

    trump has both parties trying to take him down daily. i’m amazed he’s done as much as he has for the economy

  • Joe Thumper


  • SoJerSailor

    Safeguards against politicization of the FBI and IRS? Really? Those agencies might not do Trumps bidding, but that’s not because of any safeguards. They have already been politicized / corrupted by Pinocchio bummer. It will be Trump’s greatest victory to de-politicize them.

  • Joe Thumper

    The judge in the Cohn, Stormy case married off the old man George Storos 3 years ago? can you believe this!

  • SoJerSailor

    So, things haven’t changed that much in 50+ years . . . . .

  • scruffyleon

    Comparing the Steel Industry to Amazon?
    Give me a break.
    Let Amazon pay their fair share of taxes.

  • Russell Viska

    The economic outlook may be similar, as it has many times in the past, but JFK was 5 times the man trump is.

  • Greg Parke

    Nope, not even close….

  • IMissLiberty

    Companies don’t pay taxes, they collect taxes. They are concepts, meant to describe people working together, but it is always the people who pay the taxes.

  • scruffyleon

    You must not understand economics. Companies increase the cost of their service or product in order to be able to collect those taxes. That makes their service or product more expensive.

    Also, Companies are concepts? Hogwash. Companies exist to make money. If they don’t make money, they cease to exist.

    People wind up paying for the taxes by paying more for the service or product. The increased profits allows the Companies to pay their taxes along with dividends, salaries, rent, R&D, etc.

  • brown7228

    Kennedy actions were in behalf of working people. Trump actions are in-spite of working people. Amazon success is because they satisfy customer demands. They have reach the ultimate of ultimate in convenient shopping at saves the costomer money. We the costomer have made Amazon what it is.

  • Yahya Fleming

    I take it that you’re talking directly too the Trump voters. Because, damn your comparisons show’s you have issues..

  • IMissLiberty

    Are you saying that since we both agree that companies collect taxes, that neither of us understand economics? I’m confused by your first statement. We appear to be in complete agreement on that.

    Companies exist in the minds of human beings. They are merely a conceptual social construct by humans. Ask any other animal, and companies don’t exist. They are a pass-through construct.

    Again, we agree: people/consumers pay the taxes that the companies collect from them.

  • Jay Allen

    “Safeguards, in theory, prevent the politicization of the FBI and IRS.
    It’s unlikely these agencies would break, or even bend, the law for

    But apparently both agencies bent the law considerably for the former president and the former democratic presidential nominee. (As per the IRS Inspector General and the Congressional questioning of James Comey.)

  • richard gordon

    No doubt you are one of the idiots who voted for Trump. Please take me off your mailing list.

  • scruffyleon

    Do you agree that when companies have to pay taxes (such as Amazon now being forced to pay delinquent taxes) that it raises the cost of their service? Yes the cost is passed on to their customers but it is an increase no less. It costs more for the customer to do business with Amazon.

    Companies are a reality, period. Companies exist in the minds of people but also exist on paper, have assets and worth. Animals have nothing to do with it.
    You could ask an animal if an apple is a concept and get the same reply.
    You are full of hogwash.

  • IMissLiberty

    Companies send in taxes: money they got from consumers. All the money was earned by people, not the companies. The companies simply charged the people for it, or cut their wages, or cut their dividends, or borrowed it to be paid back by their customers, or by raising their prices to consumers (as you said). Companies are a concept–they do not labor, they do not eat, or breathe, or exist in the real world.
    You are making acusations that I am “full of hogwash” even though you agreed with me that the customers pay the taxes.

    The assets and worth belong to the owners of the company. The company is simply a legal entity representing an agreement between people. I guess we’re both full of it, because we both agree that Amazon collects taxes. I don’t think you have anything to teach me. Bye.

  • scruffyleon

    Congress has given Companies the same classification as people. A Company is an entity. Under the Law, Companies have the same protections as people and are treated the same.
    So you are still full of Hogwash.

  • Peter Lake

    ********. He was a major womanizer, his father was a bootlegger, the whole clan stunk . Just take a look at good’ol Teddy and ask how Maryjo deserved her untimely and very suspicious drowning. Yes JFK was a good president but no where near being 5 times the man Donald Trump is. Kennedy had a silver spoon in his mouth from the day he was born. Donald learned how to play the same game as those quote unquote Left elitist and he has done a great job of exposing them for what they are and calling bull crap regarding their socialist agenda !

  • brown7228

    Because Trump is such a snake he must do everything he can to attract desperate people. Bring back coal is the best example. We are going backwards while China is going forwared.