When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks, Wall Street listens - and investors should beware. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) has lost over 2,500 points on days he has spoken, including three of the worst point losses ever.
Today's drop in the Dow of 215 points is the 14th time out of the last 20 times the Dow has lost ground on a Bernanke has spoken over the past six months. Bernanke gave a speech at the Federal Reserve System Conference on Housing and Mortgage Markets in Washington today, where he continued to hammer the message the economy is in bad shape.
"The U.S. financial system has been in turmoil during the past 16 months," Bernanke said. "Credit conditions have tightened and asset values have declined, contributing substantially, in turn, to the weakening of economic activity."
That message and others like it have had an impact on financial markets. Altogether, it has lost a total of 2,507 points during the 21 days listed on the Federal Reserve Board's Web site that Bernanke delivered public remarks. That's more than half of the 4,127 points the market has lost in that time.
Jerry Bowyer, chief economic advisor to BenchMark Financial Network and columnist for National Review told the Business & Media Institute it is reasonable to assume this is more than just a coincidence and the barrage of live media coverage of Bernanke has something to do with it.
"Yup. It's quite reasonable," Bowyer said. "After all CNBC usually runs the Dow on a split screen with Bernanke speaking on the other. I'd also look at Paulson - same pattern seems to hold."
It's an issue of trust, according to Bowyer - Wall Street is leery of Washington.
"Big Picture: the investor class doesn't trust the political class, even if they are Republican," Bowyer said.
Bernanke's speech on Dec. 1 to the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Austin, Texas sent the Dow Jones spiraling downward 679 points - its fourth biggest point drop ever.
"Despite the efforts of the Federal Reserve and other policymakers, the U.S. economy remains under considerable stress," Bernanke said. "Economic activity was weakening even before the intensification of the financial crisis this fall. The sharp falloff in consumer spending during the summer was particularly striking. According to the latest estimates, real gross domestic product (GDP) declined at an annual rate of 0.5 percent in the third quarter, with personal consumption falling at an annual rate of 3.7 percent."