Analysis

Where's the Trump bump?

Donald Trump promised to make the U.S. economy great again. How's he doing so far?

The smartest insight and analysis, from all perspectives, rounded up from around the web:

Campaign promises aside, "the U.S. economy was not great again in the first quarter of Donald Trump's presidency," said Ben White at Politico. Economic growth slowed to an anemic 0.7 percent in the first three months of 2017, the Commerce Department said, down from 2.1 percent during the final quarter of last year. The disappointing figures, "the economy's worst performance since the first quarter of 2014," pose a political dilemma for President Trump. Republicans have already blamed the weak data on the Obama administration, and argue the report demonstrates the need for Trump's agenda of tax cuts and deregulation. But they also understand that the optics for the White House aren't good. Since taking office, Trump has been quick to take credit for any positive economic news, like a strong jobs report in February. "By touting every good number, Trump now owns the dismal first-quarter GDP figure."

That's ridiculous, said Investor's Business Daily in an editorial. Trump "hasn't been in office long enough to take credit or blame for the GDP number." What we're seeing is the continuation of the weak growth that prevailed under President Obama, who presided over the "slowest economic expansion for any president since the Great Depression." What's more, there's no real reason for concern, said Jeffry Bartash at Market Watch. "Over the past several years, the U.S. has usually started out slowly in the first quarter, only to see a frantic burst of growth in the spring." With a strong jobs market, high consumer confidence, and corporate America "thrilled by the pro-business policies of the Trump White House," many economists expect to see growth speed up to 3 percent or more in the second quarter.

"First-quarter slowdowns have become such a regular feature of the U.S. economy" that it's tempting to ignore this one, said Justin Lahart at The Wall Street Journal. We shouldn't. There's a big red flag buried in the data: Consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of the economy, is slowing down. Americans cut back sharply on big-ticket purchases like cars and appliances, causing overall spending to grow at just 0.3 percent, the worst showing since 2009. This slowdown is troubling because consumer spending wasn't the culprit behind other weak first quarters, which were generally thrown off by seasonal quirks like unusual weather.

"Perhaps now pundits will cease to believe that Trump has awoken some 'animal spirits' in the economy," said Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. The president's cheerleaders point to a recent surge in consumer confidence and the soaring stock market as evidence that the economy is on the edge of a boom. But these GDP numbers just provided a sobering "wake-up call." Rarely have "soft" and "hard" economic data been so out of whack, said Paul Krugman at The New York Times. Consumers report feeling "super-confident" in the economy, but so far "they're not acting on those feelings." Likewise, the stock market keeps ticking skyward, with no real evidence that business fundamentals are improving. The disconnect can't continue forever. If Trump's economy doesn't start delivering, "this levee is going to break."

Recommended

Bowing to Beijing
Tom Cruise.
Briefing

Bowing to Beijing

Disappointment for sponsors and hosts at Tokyo Olympics
Signs in Tokyo.
Feature

Disappointment for sponsors and hosts at Tokyo Olympics

Top grads are avoiding Wall Street
Wall Street.
Feature

Top grads are avoiding Wall Street

The daily business briefing: July 30, 2021
Biden in Pennsylvania
Business briefing

The daily business briefing: July 30, 2021

Most Popular

Tom Brady's 'gentle' roast of Trump at Biden's White House: 'Deeply vicious'?
Tom Brady, Joe Biden
Quotables

Tom Brady's 'gentle' roast of Trump at Biden's White House: 'Deeply vicious'?

Former Michigan Sen. Carl Levin dies at 87
Former Sen. Carl Levin.
rest in peace

Former Michigan Sen. Carl Levin dies at 87

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee arrested at voter rights protest
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is arrested on Thursday at a voter rights protest.
good trouble

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee arrested at voter rights protest