“Obama’s gift to Trump” is the headline on CNN. “Trump inherits healthy economy” is the way the Financial Times is headlining the yarn. Politico reckons that Trump is being handed an “Obama boom.”
Plus, the Economist magazine is out this week with a cover featuring George Washington’s image from the greenback. Except that he’s shirtless, with his arms crossed and biceps bulging, and the headline says “The mighty dollar.”
These geniuses remind me of Mark Twain trying to palm off the idea that “Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.” If the economy is so all-fired ducky, how come Americans just tossed out the party that’s claiming credit for it?
The truth is that the Obama years have been among America’s worst for the economy. His eight years will go down in history as the Great Recession, even though for much, even most, of the span, we weren’t technically in a recession.
It just felt that way. And no wonder. Obama’s is the only modern presidency that failed to show a single year of growth above 3 percent, a point Trump stressed during the campaign (and that was conceded even by the Web site Politifact).
Plus, the Obama economy failed to prosper even though the Federal Reserve had its pedal to the metal. Its quantitative easing, $2 trillion balance-sheet expansion and zero-interest-rate policy all produced zilch.
Except for pumping up Wall Street and producing what Trump calls a “false economy.” The recent declines in the unemployment rate are due less to the uptick in employed persons than to an increasing number of persons leaving the labor force.
In a “true economy” what people would boast about would be the number of employed persons rising faster than the size of an expanding workforce. In reality, the job participation rate is the lowest in decades, as millions are too discouraged to seek a job.
And the recent record Dow Jones average? It’s pumped up by the Federal Reserve. It’s nowhere near a record if the Dow is calculated in the most traditional measure of value. The gold value of the Dow peaked way back in 1999.
All this is why Bloomberg News has been reporting the “Rust Belt’s transformation into the Trump Belt.” It cites this week new research on “how bad things have become” in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.