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By MADLEN READ Associated Press
March 9, 2009, 10:54PM
The election of Barack Obama offered the promise of a new set of fixes for the financial crisis and the economy, a do-over that might help nurse the stock market back to health.
Since then, the market hasn’t just gotten worse — it’s turned in its worst performance ever for a new president.
The Dow Jones industrial average has fallen 21 percent during Obama’s first seven weeks in office. Count back to Election Day, and the results are even bleaker: That afternoon, the Dow closed at 9,625. Now it stands at 6,547, a loss of 32 percent.
Is this the Obama bear market? Or hangover from the Bush administration?
Some investors blame the slow-motion crash on Wall Street’s disappointment with the government’s $787 billion stimulus plan, its seemingly endless bailouts and the lack of specifics on how to rid banks of toxic assets.
Others say Obama inherited a recession destined to become the worst since World War II. And they note that the market was already in awful shape at the tail end of the Bush administration, down 44 percent from the market’s 2007 peak to Inauguration Day.
Either way, Wall Street has not exactly rolled out the welcome mat for Obama. Stockholders have lost $1.4 trillion during the young administration.
“There’s not much evidence that anything is working,” said Hugh Johnson, chairman and chief investment officer of Johnson Illington Advisors.
“Investors are waiting to see some results from these grand plans, and they don’t see them yet.”
Obama still has the nation’s support — a 67 percent job approval rating, according to a recent Associated Press-GfK poll.
Before Obama, the worst Dow performance for the first seven weeks of a new administration was an 18 percent plunge in 1974 after Gerald Ford was sworn in, during a severe bear market triggered by the Arab oil crisis.