The Conventions by the (Stock Market) Numbers

Here, briefly, is a bit of post-convention trivia, just for the record. During the week of July 31 through Aug. 4–when the Republican convention occurred–the S&P 500 rose from 1,419.89 to 1,462.93. That’s an increase of about 3 percent. The week of the Democratic convention, Aug. 14 to 18, the S&P 500 also rose, this time from 1,471.84 to 1,491.72, which works out to about 1.5 percent. I’m counting from the Monday open to the Friday close, to account both for the Monday anticipation as well as the Friday reaction to each presidential candidate’s speech.

As noted, this is essentially trivia, and the particulars don’t really mean much. But the general point has been made, here and elsewhere, that both major candidates would like to figure out some way to capture the endorsement of the Greatest Bull Market of All Time, so it seemed worthwhile to look quickly at these numbers.

If there is anything to fear in being associated with falling stocks–and how could there not be?–then it’s the Democrats who might be given pause. The S&P 500 rose each day during the Republicans’ week. During the Democrats’ week, it fell three of the five days; a drop on Friday, after Gore’s speech, was the most modest fall, but also the most intriguing. The headline in Saturday’s New York Times was: “Gore’s Speech Sets Off Fall in Drug and Tobacco Shares.” Is this a fair assessment? Might a continued Gore assault on drug companies in particular link the candidate in the popular mind with sagging share prices? We’ll see.

The truth is, of course, that for weeks now the market has been much more interested in another Washington figure: Alan Greenspan. After all, the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting begins tomorrow, and that’s obviously a lot more important to investors than the conventions were. Then again, given the strikingly low viewership of the conventions, one might conclude that Survivor is a lot more important to viewers than the conventions were. But that’s another story.