The Myth of the Trump Economy

I think it’s time to put a pin in the Trump balloon about his success with the economy. He and his supporters have used the relatively good economic metrics that exist as rationale for his poor behavior as president and as the primary rationale for his reelection. Many Trumpers seem to think that Donald is a resurrection of FDR saving us from a depression or worse. I’m surprised that Trump did not take credit for the US Women’s Soccer Team In winning the World Cup.

Listed below are five considerations when viewing the economy:

#1 The unemployment rate is 3.5% which is excellent. There are more jobs than qualified people to fill them. I’m not quite sure what credit the president or Congress can take for that result. I’d give more credit to America’s entrepreneurs, small business owners and CEOs for the job success. Trump inherited a growing economy from the Obama administration. Trumpers need to remember that the unemployment rate went from 10% to 4.8% during Obama’s tenure. The fate of the economy was much more tenuous in 2009 when Obama assumed the presidency than it was on January 20, 2017. In addition, Obama did not have the favorable political environment where his party possessed the numbers or clout to push through his agenda or bidding, at will. Obama did the heavy lifting for the economy. Trump was the relief pitcher in the ninth inning protecting a 8-0 lead.

#2 The passage of the 2018 Corporate tax bill helped promote an increase in the Dow Jones industrial average by 49%. This is great metrics – – if you are fortunate enough to have invested in Dow Jones companies. So Trump and the Republican Congress made a decision – – they helped improve the fortunes of the large investors to buy new mansions, and new yachts. At whose expense? Our country badly needs improvements in our infrastructure – – we need to fix up roads, bridges, airports, etc. The federal debt has gone up $2 billion under Trump and is now 78% of this nation’s entire gross domestic product. The Republicans have approved the credit card  and issued an unlimited credit limit and our gleefully spending it. This is the party who wanted to cut up the card and freeze spending when the previous President was a Democrat. The problem is that the bill will be paid further down the road by future generations.

#3 The fed funds rate is 1.75%. Why is this important? For consumers, it affects the borrowing rate for your car, your mortgage and any other consumer debt that you may have. Currently, you are able to borrow money relatively cheaply. However, if you are interested in saving money, you are in a conundrum. Anyone who has a checking account, money market fund or certificate of deposit is probably realizing an annual rate of less than .05%. In order to make money or get the best return on your investment, you probably have to enter the financial casino known as the stock market or equities. One of the primary reasons why the Dow, S&P and NASDAQ have and continue to do well is that consumers are investing their money in stocks, bonds and mutual funds. There is no other game in town. If you are a retiree and on a fixed income, you will earn about as much money stuffing it under your mattress as you would depositing it in a bank. One last point, the president expressed he “could get used to” in a  negative interest rate environment. Under this scenario, depositors would pay banks to maintain their cash deposits. If the country enters a recession, the Fed has very few options to bolster the economy given the very low interest rates now. A negative interest rate environment is not impossible.

#4 Remember the President’s promise during the 2016 election to replace Obamacare with a better healthcare program that was cheaper and more efficient? I do. The only thing that the president and the Republican Party have tried to do is to eliminate Obamacare. You never heard what program they were proposing to a replace it. During the Trump administration, the number of people lacking health insurance rose by 2 million. Prescription costs continue to rise and many people each day struggle to gauge whether to eat or to use the money for drugs they need to stay alive or healthy.

#5 Strangely enough, there are consequences to a full employment economy. For this observation, I will speak from several recent personal experiences in trying to conduct business with various companies. First, due to the lack of attracting qualified applicants, many companies are forced to hire unqualified or less than qualified people. Many of these employees require extensive training and follow-up. Second, there is a huge turnover in personnel particularly among businesses that are unable to provide competitive salaries and benefits. In various instances, applicants who accept job offers don’t show up for their first day at work and don’t have the decency to notify the employer that they have accepted another position or simply lost interest in the job they accepted. Third, dealing with combination of unqualified and unmotivated employees is a horrible experience for those of us trying to conduct business with a company. Because many employees do not possess good business judgment or have the ability to resolve issues on their own, they are forced to follow a script. Beyond reading the script, many frontline employees are clueless in resolving billing, delivery and service issues. 

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