Let’s start off by making something clear. Donald Trump’s economic predictions are terrible, self-serving garbage.
“I think it’s a great time to start a mortgage company,” Trump told CNBC in April of 2006, when he happened to be starting a mortgage company as the biggest real estate bubble in history was about to burst all over his face. He then added “the real estate market is going to be very strong for a long time to come.”
That may be the worst economic prediction of all-time. It’s like predicting that the Titanic would actually fly across the Atlantic.
So what’s the stubby-fingered psychic saying now?
That we’re headed for a “very massive recession.” His evidence that we’re headed for a recession? The size of his crowds, which he continually exaggerates using a method psychotherapists call “measuring from the taint.”
The idea that people are embracing Trump’s outward bigotry, childish name-calling and unsubtle misogyny because of “economic anxiety” should be a roadside attraction — the World’s Largest Pile of Horseshit. Certainly economic inequality and a growing sense of the unfairness that has been nurtured by conservative economics taints everything but voters aren’t that much angrier than they are normally are and the economy isn’t driving most of the rage.
A new CNBC All-American Survey finds that “the wealthiest Americans are more likely to be angry or dissatisfied with the political system than the lowest income Americans.”
So where is the rage monster carpooling Trumpists to Trump out at Trumpapaloozas all over these 50 states? The other party.
Because actually, the economy is pretty good — especially if you compare it to the rest of this century, as Lynn Vavek explained in the New York Times:
Objective economic conditions measured by the Federal Reserve suggest that the nation’s recovery from the Great Recession began in 2010, when gross domestic product began to expand, unemployment began to fall and real disposable income began to increase. By 2015, the misery index — a combined measure of unemployment and inflation — was about as low as it had been since the 1950s, which means there was an active demand for goods and services along with low unemployment and inflation.
Most Americans seemed to appreciate this growth. Data on the Index of Consumer Sentiment, one of the longest-running measures of Americans’ views of the economy, show that by the end of 2015, consumer sentiment was as positive as it had been in the mid-2000s and mid-1980s. It was nearly identical to where it was at the end of 1983, when Mr. Reagan’s re-election romp — based almost entirely on the victory over stagflation — began to take shape.
This may help explain why President Obama’s approval is at a 3-year high. And this good news doesn’t cheer Republicans. It clearly pisses them off that Obama is succeeding in another department where George W. Bush failed miserably.
And this also explains why Trump is attacking the economy.
He knows Republicans basically only trust what they hear on Fox News and creating the sense that the world is conspiring against you is key to this dynamic. It’s also a safe bet for Trump because like everyone predicting a recession, he can say it will come eventually and he’ll be right!
And the truth is we’re due for a recession. Raising taxes on the rich and insuring 20 million turned out to give us the best job growth of the century. We’re in the midst of the longest private sector job expansion in American history.
Still there’s no sign that the American economy, which has proven to be the most resilient economy, has been shaken into recession, despite nearly constant economic turbulence. Barry Ritholtz looked at the factors that most often predict a economic contraction and find them for “the most part simply not present.”
So Trump is hoping to shake people’s confidence to have some hope of shaking the economy, which tends to be the best predictor of whether the party in the White House keeps the White House.
Trump gambles with people’s safety and, now, their livelihoods. This is why people see fascism in his antics. And this is why despite the obvious realization that he believes in nothing but his own power, he may even be more dangerous than a true believer like Ted Cruz.
[CC image credit: Gage Skidmore | Flickr]