On March 28, 1985, President Ronald Reagan made his first of two visits to the NYSE to salute the robust American expansion, as well as the central role of the New York Stock Exchange as the nerve center of entrepreneurial capitalism. President Reagan was the first sitting U.S. president to visit the NYSE.
At 9:53 a.m. that morning, President Reagan—amid a roaring ovation—addressed the Exchange community from the bell podium. Flanked by his chief of staff, Donald T. Regan and NYSE chairman and CEO John J. Phelan, Jr., President Reagan proclaimed: “We’re bullish on the American Economy. The American Economy is like a race horse that’s begun to gallop in front of the field.” Aiming to drive “the bears back into hibernation,” he said, “that’s our economic program for the next four years—we’re going to turn the bull loose.”
Throughout his presidency, the President continued to champion the principles and power of free people competing in free markets. During the first year of his Administration, in September 1981, Reagan communicated his core beliefs to members of the IMF and the World Bank when he stated:
“We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and, ultimately, human fulfillment are created from the bottom up, not the government down. Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefiting from their success – only then can societies remain alive, dynamic, prosperous, progressive and free.
“Trust the people. This is the one irrefutable lesson of the entire post-war period, contradicting the notion that rigid government controls are essential to economic development. The societies that have achieved the most spectacular, broad-based progress are neither the most tightly controlled, nor the biggest in size, nor the wealthiest in natural resources. No, what unites them all is their willingness to believe in the magic of the marketplace.”
Click here to view archival photos of President Reagan's visits to the NYSE.