The experts say that the December stock market failed to provide the amicable good cheer associated with Christmas.

In fact, in a short session on Monday, the Dow industrial average took a dive of 653 points. If it drops another 1.5%, it could be stepping across the bear threshold.

After climbing to heady heights earlier in 2018, the market has been skiing down the slippery slope for the past three months.  

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin has been giving pep talks by telephone to major bank executives.

On Sunday, he took to Twitter to say he had spoken to heads of the biggest U.S. banks about liquidity and lending infrastructure and reconvened a presidential working group that was established to sort out the 1987 crash.

For investors who thought they would spend 2018 basking in the tidings of Trump’s tax overhaul, the slide has been particularly brutal.

The president has been ranting publicly, for weeks, about the way Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is leading the Fed, charting a course of slow but steady interest rate increases as a way to contain inflation.

Trump has asked internal and external advisers about whether he can fire Powell.

News of Trump’s discussions about Powell prompted rebukes from lawmakers and alarm among economists and Wall Street executives.

The stock market is on track for its worst year in a decade, with many sectors down more than 20%. The sell-off is said to be the worst for the market since 2008.

Trump’s questions about his authority to dismiss Powell underscore how much he fears about the stock market slide. Looming worries about economic growth could threaten his reelection chances and weaken him politically.

Wall Street executives have urged Trump to step back from his attacks and they say any move to dismiss the Fed chair would cause a massive sell-off in the markets and rattle the global financial system. The independence of the Fed and the freedom it has to make decisions regardless of politics have long been critical factors supporting the U.S. economy, economists said.

“If Trump tries to fire Powell, there would be a catastrophic reaction in the markets,” Greg Valliere, chief global strategist at Horizon Investments said. “That is so reckless that (National Economic Council Director Lawrence) Kudlow and probably Mnuchin would resign, just as (Defense Secretary Jim) Mattis did.”

Millions of stock market investors will be hoping that the new year of 2019 will see a strong return to the bull market that has been around in recent years.

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