Dow 20,000 Is the Most Unexciting Thing Ever

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As long as we’re on the subject of economic growth, the Dow has been in the news lately because it broke the 20,000 barrier. A lot of people are pretty excited about this, but just to give you an idea of how totally unexciting this actually is, here’s the Dow over the past eight years:

During the Obama presidency, the Dow doubled in real terms. What’s more, its growth has been remarkably steady. The trendline here is nothing fancy, just the default linear regression provided by Excel. The Dow has been growing about 9.4 percent per year, year in and year out. There was a tiny uptick in November, which you can see on the chart, but all it did was return growth to the trendline it had been following for the previous eight years. Since then, growth has returned almost precisely to the trendline.

As for breaking 20,000, anyone with a hand calculator could have predicted a year ago that this would happen within a couple of months of the start of 2017. And it did. It means nothing except that growth is continuing along the same path as always.


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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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