Mon | Jun 25, 2018

Trump oversells economic performance

Published:Sunday | January 28, 2018 | 12:00 AM


Just last month, President Donald Trump was crowing about his chances for seeing the United States post three per cent economic growth in 2017 and scoffing at the sceptics who predicted much less.

Turns out that the sceptics actually, mainstream economists were right and he was wrong.

This became clear last Friday just as Trump was speaking about an America "roaring back" in remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

That speech served as the week's curtain raiser for the main act in presidential rhetoric, the State of the Union speech coming on Tuesday.

A look at a selection of his remarks and how they stack up with the facts:

TRUMP: "After years of stagnation, the United States is once again experiencing strong economic growth."

THE FACTS: This is an exaggeration. The economy is doing better by some measures, but data released right as Trump finished speaking shows it hasn't yet accelerated meaningfully since his inauguration.

Since the Great Recession ended in 2009, the economy has expanded at an average annual pace of 2.1 per cent, which makes it the slowest recovery since World War II. The Commerce Department said last Friday that the economy grew 2.3 per cent in 2017, Trump's first year in office. Most economists expect better in 2018. But the United States hasn't yet entered a sustained period of faster growth.

Trump was gunning for three per cent or better, and confident about his chances. He reached that goal in two quarters and frequently pointed out that President Barack Obama never saw three per cent growth for a year.