Stocks return to Earth, with the S&P 500 near a bear market

But the downdraft has brought down the share prices of companies that also represent innovation and the future; Amazon has been down more than 30% since the beginning of the year, and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is down about 20% as investors rethink the true value of those companies.

Virtually no stock was saved from losses. The decline in the market has “gone on and on, and it’s depressing,” Ms. Hill said.

Perhaps no one understood that emotional market symbolism better than Trump.

“The reason our stock market is so successful is because of me”, Trump said in November 2017 – one of many statements boasting about rising stock prices or publicly lobbying the Fed to lower interest rates further to stimulate the economy.

At the start of the pandemic in April 2020 – with shops, offices and churches closed, children left behind trying to go to remote school and morgues running out of space for victims of the virus – Mr. Trump tweeted that the United States has had “the largest stock market rise since 1974”.

While most Americans have invested money in the stock market, it remains a rich man’s game. According to an analysis by New York University economics professor Edward Wolff, the richest 5% of American wealth holders own 72% of all shares.

But the symbolic value of the stock market matters. “It’s the one story that makes the headlines every night,” said Richard Sylla, professor emeritus of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Is the market rising or falling? Are we winning or losing today, this week, this year, this presidency?

On Friday, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index fell below-expected, a decline some economists attribute in part to equity market losses. The index is now 13 points below its low when Covid first struck, noted Ian Shepherdson, US chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. Such profound pessimism “suggests that people have short memories,” wrote Mr. Shepherdson in a research note.