Did Trump Fix a Terrible Economy?

I was watching President Trump give his Emergency Declaration this morning. No, I did not damage my television screen by throwing things at it. OK, I did curse a bit.

Trump’s press conference was extemporaneous. He did not use a teleprompter, so we got the standard screed from his MAGA rallies for the red hat crowd. One thing that comes up every time (including today) is his claim that “I started with an economy that was a disaster and I fixed it – yadda yadda yadda.” Is this claim true?

First, never look at the stock market to study this. As Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winner for Economics has stated: “the stock market is not the economy.” The stock market is speculative, going up and down even in times of full production and employment.

You have to look at something called the Gross Domestic Product. It represents the sum total of all the manufacturing and service output of the country. The GDP was above $17 trillion for 2017. Normally the GDP goes up every year due to increases in our population (more people to build things, run farms, and cook hamburgers). It goes down only when the economy falters, such as during the President George W Bush crash of 2007. Here is a GDP graph from the St. Louis FED (the best source of economic data in the USA). This graph has every data point converted to 2012 dollars to remove inflation from the analysis.

Real GDP 2009 - 2018 - annotated

As you can see, Obama started in January 2009. At that point, the GDB had contracted significantly (he’s the one who inherited a disaster). Thanks to a nearly $trillion dollar stimulus, he got the GDP back to where it was pre-crash in a little over a year. It continued to 2017 on a steady improving slope. If you look at Trump’s first year and a half, he had essentially the same slope.

What does this mean? Trump inherited a very good economy from Obama. Being an overt racist, he refuses to give Obama any credit for giving him a robust economy.

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