As Stocks Reach New Heights, What’s Trump Got to Do With It?

Supporters of the president point to his emphatic stance against regulations that restrain businesses, as well as the dozens of executive orders he has signed that try to roll them back. According to my colleagues Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear, he has “signed 13 bills to wipe out Obama-era regulations using the Congressional Review Act and ordered agency reviews of regulations across the government.”

Peter C. Kenny, chief market strategist for Global Markets Advisory Group and independent market strategist at Kenny & Company, wrote on Monday, “It appears as though the Trump administration’s focus on what it can control (i.e., rolling back Obama-era regulations) is effectively beginning to bear results in the form of economic resurgence.”

But that’s not right. Listen to the earnings conference calls of the biggest publicly traded companies over the past several weeks — which are the real reason the stock market has soared — and virtually none of those phone calls attributed higher profits to reduced costs to comply with regulations.

The only time the word “regulation” was even used on Apple’s earnings call — during which the company described how it beat analysts’ estimates by a wide margin — was in reference to China. The word did not get a mention on Amazon’s earnings call, nor was there any reference to Washington at all, despite constant chatter about how antitrust policy should be applied to the retailing behemoth.

Even on Goldman Sachs’s earnings call, which included several questions and answers related to regulations, not once did any official suggest that the firm’s earnings were a result of lighter regulatory burdens. Indeed, the bank warned several times that it was too early and too difficult to predict exactly how deregulation efforts would affect its various businesses.

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, famously was so upset on his conference call about the state of Washington and the inability to get anything done, he declared: “We have become one of the most bureaucratic, confusing, litigious societies on the planet.”

Of all America’s various industries, it is the Wall Street banks that should see the most benefit from deregulatory measures. Already, prosecutors have sought less in fines from the banks than they did under the Obama administration. And Mr. Trump has pledged to repeal — or at least reform — Dodd-Frank, the checks on the banking system imposed in…

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