As I noted in yesterday’s post, in Mr. Trump’s speech at the Economic Club of New York Tuesday, he made a mysterious claim:
…we’ve added nearly $10 trillion of new value to our economy. That’s in a short period of time. Remember, I only use numbers from the time of the election because I can’t go to January 20th. It’s not fair. We picked up tremendous stock market and economic numbers. They actually went wild the day after I won.
I puzzled over the $10 trillion figure. Reader Joseph has conjectured that Trump was working off the Wilshire 5000 index, in which each point equals roughly a billion dollars of capitalization. Indeed, the change in the index from the day before the election and latest is $10.0 trn. However, the Wilshire 5000 is not comprehensive, and includes equities held by nonresidents. Let’s compare to the Fed’s Flow of Funds data to the Wilshire 5000.
Figure 1: Value of equities held by households (blue), Wilshire 5000 (brown), both end-of-quarter, in billions of dollars, on log scale. Source: Federal Reserve Board Flow of Funds, and Wilshire Associates, both via FRED, and author’s calculations.
What is the implied change in value of equities from before the election to 2019Q3 held by Americans? This is shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Value of equities held by households according to Flow of Funds (blue), Wilshire 5000 (brown), both end-of-quarter relative to end-of-quarter 2016Q3 in billions of dollars. Flow of Funds estimate for 2019Q3 is based log-log first differences regression using SP500 for extrapolation. Source: Federal Reserve Board Flow of Funds, and Wilshire Associates, both via FRED, and author’s calculations.
End-of-quarter Wilshire 5000 figures indicate $8 trillion change, while corresponding Flow of Funds iindicate only $4.6. This differential at end-2019Q3 suggests that Mr. Trump’s estimate is nearly double the actual change in household equity holdings.
So, I re-iterate, whatever happened to fact checking economic statistics in the White House?