- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 21, 2016

CLEVELAND — While the political world here obsesses over Melania-gate and Wednesday night’s Cruz-ifixion, the money world is having a much better week.

In what may have as big an impact on the vote in November as all the speeches, intrigues, gaffes and triumphs combined at the Republican National Convention, the stock markets were breaking records, the June jobs numbers were unexpectedly strong and the dollar reached a four-month high as nominee Donald Trump prepared to give his acceptance address.

If investors and employers are worried about Mr. Trump’s protectionist rhetoric and skepticism of trade pacts, they have a funny way of showing it.

Although the markets took a breather Thursday, the financial world entered the week on a winning streak, and the convention did little to disrupt the momentum.

The Dow Jones industrial average and the broader S&P 500 index were in record territory. The Dow closed Wednesday up 36 points to 18,595 — its ninth straight day of gains and the longest string of positive days for the index in three years.

The smaller Nasdaq index, which is relatively heavy with high-tech stocks, was the biggest gainer of the day, up 1.4 percent.

“It is beyond doubt that consumers have shaken off their winter blues,” Chris G. Christopher Jr., director of consumer economics at IHS Global Insight, told The Wall Street Journal. “Despite rising gasoline prices, consumers are opening their wallets.”

Analysts said the rally had more to do with corporate earnings news and receding fears that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates than the rhetoric coming from the Quicken Loans Arena.

But many political scientists argue that the stock values, job numbers and other economic news in midsummer are at least as important to the outcome of an election as the personalities of the candidates, the debates, and the ups and downs on the campaign trail. How the numbers trend in May, June and July historically has been a strong predictor of which party wins in November.

Polls consistently show deep anxiety among voters about the state of the economy. By some measures, such as real median household income and the broader measure of how many Americans have dropped out of the workforce, the numbers remain troubling.

But many of the major indexes of the economy’s health have been positive in recent months. The economy added a strong 287,000 jobs in June after a lackluster May, and retail sales and industrial production were up smartly for the month, the government reported.

The strong national economy has presented a challenge to some of the convention speakers, including Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Mike Pence of Indiana, Mr. Trump’s vice presidential nominee. Both touted strong job creation and production in their states while insisting that the economic policies of President Obama and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton were disastrous for the country as a whole.

Mr. Pence argued that the economy is thriving in his state and others with Republican governors, but could be much better if Democrats in Washington get out of the way.

“They tell us this economy is the best that we can do,” Mr. Pence said in his acceptance address. “It’s nowhere near the best that we can do. It’s just the best that they can do.”

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