Trump bullish on economy but whose recovery is it?
As he rubs shoulders with leaders of the world’s other major economies, Donald Trump is in a bullish mood about the US recovery even if there are clouds on the horizon. “Stock Market at all time high, unemployment at lowest level in years (wages will start going up) and our base has never been stronger!” the US president tweeted at the start of a week which ends with his attendance at the G20 summit in Hamburg.
“No matter where you look, the economy is blazing,” he said in a July 4 Independence Day speech, a day before heading to Europe. Trump, who frequently complains the US media refuses to give him credit, can point to some heady figures since his unexpected election which was greeted gleefully on the stock markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 17.2 percent since last November’s election, while the broader S&P 500 gained 13.7 percent, and the tech-dominated Nasdaq 18.4 percent.
Banking stocks in particular soared amid promises the sector would see an easing of regulations put in place in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The unemployment rate is only 4.3 percent while the trade deficit is shrinking with exports in May at their highest level in two years. Even so, experts say Trump appears to be taking credit for accomplishments-particularly on the jobs front-whose foundations were laid by his predecessor Barack Obama. And they also point out that Trump has little to show for in terms of policy, with the much-touted tax reforms and infrastructure spending program still just talking points.
Meanwhile, the promised health care overhaul, which includes a huge tax cut for the wealthy, is struggling to get approval in the Republicancontrolled Senate. “I would say it is still Obama’s recovery,” said Joseph E. Gagnon of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “Nothing of substance has changed yet, but markets are clearly focusing on what may change.”
Growth forecasts cut
Trump swept to office after berating Obama’s economic accomplishments, saying too many people were being left out of the recovery, and promising to rev up growth to four percent. But the International Monetary Fund recently cut its growth forecasts for the United States due to the absence of any details of the proposals that prompted the fund to raise its forecast in January.
The IMF warned of “significant policy uncertainties” weighing on the outlook as it reverted to last year’s projection that the economy will expand by 2.1 percent in 2017 and 2018, down from 2.3 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively. The Congressional Budget Office also recently cut its forecast to 2.1 percent. The IMF also questioned the administration’s promise to accelerate growth to more than three percent-the more modest goal now espoused by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin-although he says achieving that rate will take time. International experience and US history show only a few examples of economies achieving growth of that magnitude, and usually only after a recession when unemployment is high, the IMF said. While the jobs situation is healthy, such low unemployment leaves little room for the economy to grow without fueling inflation, unless immigration increases to fill job openings.
HAMBURG: US President Donald Trump attends a working session during the G20 summit.