Trump admin officials tried -- and failed -- to calm the stock market as the president made it worse: WaPo
Steve Mnuchin whispering to Trump to sign the documents (Photo: Screen capture)

A new Washington Post analysis found that when Donald Trump and his administration tried to calm a plummeting stock market, they appeared to make it that much worse.


Trump's focus on the stock market has long been a source of concern for economists, the Post noted -- and as he and officials in his administration attempt to slow the market's slide, "it has become apparent why."

"On Monday, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index closed in bear market territory, meaning the longest bull market for stocks in modern U.S. history is basically at its end," the report noted, clarifying that "a bear market is a 20 percent decline from the all-time high, which occurred in September."

While the president blames his own Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell for the bust, "many on Wall Street say Trump deserves some blame, too."

He's reportedly begun asking his advisers if he can fire the Fed chair, the newspaper reported over the weekend.

The move "would be an unprecedented act in the United States and one that would spook markets and banks" -- a reality incoming White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried to fend off over the weekend by insisting Trump knows he can't fire Powell.

Mnuchin dug a deeper hole when he revealed that he planned on spending Christmas Eve on the phone with the "Plunge Protection Team" a presidential working group of financial regulators.

"This group hasn’t been very active since 2008 to 2009, when the nation was in a massive financial crisis, which is why many economists are asking: If there are no problems, why call now?" the report noted.

Rather than assessing the situation positively or apologizing, Trump took to Twitter to trash the Fed -- and led to an even steeper Dow fall, the Post reported.

"If you wanted to create financial market volatility, this is how you would do it," economist Justin Wolfers tweeted. "Why a Treasury Secretary is in that game is beyond me."

A senior Treasury official on Monday morning said Mnuchin only made the statement as a "prudent, preemptive measure," but the damage seems to be done as markets fall even further, the report noted.