President Trump's economic advisers notified him earlier this month that "some internal forecasts showed that the economy could slow markedly over the next year," The Washington Post reports. But even as warning signs mounted, Trump "has been portraying the economy to the public as 'phenomenal' and 'incredible.' He has told aides that he thinks he can convince Americans that the economy is vibrant and unrattled through a public messaging campaign."
But that messaging campaign has been "muddled and often contradictory" thanks to mixed economic data, Trump's erratic comments, and internal disagreements over how to shore up the economy, compounded by uncertainty among staffers about what Trump measures would support or what he's thinking at any given moment, the Post reports, citing interviews with more than 25 current and former administration officials, lawmakers, and external advisers who've spoken with Trump and his team throughout this tumultuous month.
"Everyone is nervous — everyone," a Republican with close ties to the White House told the Post. "It's not a panic, but they are nervous."
"Compounding Trump's situation, some of the economy's strains appear to be of his own making, as uncertainty surrounding his trade war with China has frozen much investment nationwide," and the White House is struggling with "how to handle that bracing reality — and Trump's own stubbornness on trade strategy and his anger about news coverage of the economy," the Post reports. "Trump, aides said, is obsessed with media coverage of the economy, and thinks Americans will believe negative news and stop spending money."
White House spokesman Judd Deere insisted "the fundamentals of the economy are strong because of this president's pro-growth policies," but former White House economic advisers disagree. "The irony here is that Trump's erratic, chaotic approach to the economy is probably the most significant economic risk factor in the world right now," said Gene Sperling, a veteran of the Clinton and Obama administrations. "Their response is just to show even more erratic behavior. It's economic narcissism." Read more about the economic tumult of August at The Washington Post. Peter Weber