Stock Market

New High Stock Market News Is Misleading

Inflation continues to undermine the U.S. economy and financial system reports. However, the effect is ignored in media reports. Instead, inflation-caused price increases are presented as real growth.

A good example is the widespread “all-time-high” stock market reporting. For example, The Wall Street Journal’s February 28 article, “Nasdaq Approaches Record Set in 2021.”

“The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite resumed its climb Tuesday, closing within striking distance of a record high hit in 2021. The gauge rose 0.4%, off 0.1% from its record of 16,057.” [The daily high close set on November 19, 2021.]

The problem with that view is that the high index number comes from prices in dollars that had a higher purchasing value than today’s. In the 2-1/4 years following, CPI Core inflation rose 11%. For proper comparison, that past high needs conversion to today’s dollars. That adjusted number is 17,824 (16,057 x 111%). Therefore, today’s (Feb. 29) close of 16,092 is still short at 9.7% below its previous high.

All stock market indexes need inflation adjustment

The two graphs below show the “nominal (as reported)” and “real (inflation-adjusted)” index moves since the beginning of the Covid period. The first graph of reported index values is the basis for media reports. The second graph adjusts for the dollar’s value shift, providing a picture of real performance (that is, growth that excludes the effect of inflation).

The key performance numbers from those graphs are in this table:

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