When Barack Obama was president and the economic statistics were good, then-candidate Donald Trump said they were fake. When Trump became president and inherited the exact same stats, they suddenly became real.
Now that they’re turning south, they’re apparently fake once more.
Trump, aided by his economic brain trust of cranks and sycophants, believes any indicator showing the U.S. economy could be in trouble must be fabricated. It’s all part of an anti-Trump conspiracy, he rants, according to reports in The Post, the Associated Press and the New York Times.
According to Trump this particular conspiracy is massive.
It’s led by the Federal Reserve, Democrats and the media, of course, or so say Trump and his Fox News minions. But it also includes the entire U.S. bond market, which flashed a warning sign last week when the Treasury yield curve inverted (meaning long-term bonds had lower interest rates than short-term ones, which usually predates a downturn).
Also colluding are the many farmers, retailers, manufacturers and economists who have been warning for more than a year that the burden of Trump’s tariffs is mainly borne by Americans, not China or other trading partners, and also that uncertainty over trade tensions can paralyze hiring, investment and purchasing decisions, which we need to keep the economy expanding.
The cabal even transcends borders. Besides Trump’s trade wars, after all, the main risk to the U.S. economy involves contagion from abroad. And right now, nine major economies are either in a recession or on the verge of one. Never fear, though: All nine countries’ statisticians are surely cooking their books to hurt Trump, too.
The White House has reportedly declined to develop contingency plans for a downturn because it doesn’t want to validate this “negative narrative.” This is, in a word, idiotic. As others have analogized, it’s like refusing to buy a fire extinguisher because you’re afraid of feeding a “negative narrative” that you might someday face a fire.
So — Trump and his “economic advisors” — are they (1) a confederacy of dunces, or, (2) lying scumbags, or, (3) both?