Larry Kudlow has been sucked into Donald Trump’s event horizon and, like everyone else who ventures into the President’s orbit, has become afflicted with the same cognitive incapacity as Trump himself.
Late last month, Kudlow lied on national television when he told Maria Bartiromo (another CNBC veteran-turned Trump sycophant) that the deficit is “coming down and it’s coming down rapidly.”
That is a demonstrable, bald-faced lie. Period. Everyone knows the deficit is exploding – that’s the main criticism of Trump’s fiscal policy.
As the Washington Post correctly noted after Kudlow made that claim, “there is no publicly available justification for it.”
But WaPo’s reminder is for public consumption – that is, it’s meant to communicate to the layperson that what Kudlow is saying has no basis in reality. For those of us who spend our time steeped in this debate, Kudlow’s contention was flat out laughable. All anyone has been talking about for months on end is the deficit.
There’s more on that here.
Since taking over for Gary Cohn, Larry has been at pains to reconcile his “Trump is a free trader” characterization of the President with, well, with reality. Because the reality is that Trump has slapped tariffs on everything from residential washing machines to steel and unless someone swerves in the increasingly perilous game of trade chicken between Washington and Beijing, the President will soon be taxing literally everything that China exports to the United States up to and including “badger hair”.
Trump is going to slap tariffs on imported Chinese badger hair. pic.twitter.com/CyIUTe0JZh
— Walter White (@heisenbergrpt) July 11, 2018
Another thing that’s becoming increasingly difficult for the Larry Kudlows and the Peter Navarros of the world to explain is the rhetoric coming from corporate management teams about what the tariffs are likely to mean for their bottom lines.
This week alone, General Motors, Harley-Davidson, Whirlpool and a handful of other companies have explicitly cited the tariffs on the way to explaining either earnings misses, guidance cuts or in some cases both.
Everyone knew this was coming and some of these companies tried to warn Trump ahead of time, but we got a preview of how the administration would likely respond late last month when Navarro showed up on CNN and accused General Motors and Harley of “speaking through forked tailpipe” and “playing into the hands of the foreigners.”
Fast forward to this week and Kudlow is now literally accusing corporate management teams of lying to shareholders. Here’s what he told reporters at the White House on Friday:
I’m seeing some companies reporting weaker-than-expected earnings and blaming tariffs, and it’s just not true.
Keep in mind that the companies listed above have quantified the impact of the tariffs and if you read their quarterly reports, they clearly explain how Trump’s trade policies are affecting them. That is, Larry Kudlow is telling you that those companies are just making those numbers up or to the extent the numbers are real, Kudlow is trying to say that management is lying to shareholders about what’s behind them.
As Bloomberg notes, Kudlow did not cite any specific examples, but claimed that CEOs are blaming tariffs instead of their own execution or management.
But lying to shareholders in earnings reports is something that’s generally frowned upon and is possibly illegal depending on the circumstances, so I guess what I wonder here is whether Kudlow would be prepared to take his implicit complaints to the SEC.
HAHA. Just kidding. Of course he wouldn’t, because he’s lying!
Want to see Kudlow double and triple down on Trump-o-nomics? Of course you do! Let’s listen in to state television, shall we?
I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite pseudonymous economic and political commentators:
Whoever comes within Trump’s event horizon becomes afflicted with the same cognitive incapacity as Trump himself. There is a long list of transient (and a shorter list of persistent) surrogates, all of them disposable victims of cognitive asphyxiation: Kellyanne, both Steves, Giuliani, Christie, Newt, Ben Carson, Jeffrey Lord, and a long list of anonymous spokespersons. Not that these people were ever beacons of rationality, but they have broken new boundaries and set new records after entering the domain of Donald Trump. These creatures thrive in the space between real news and reality TV. They roam different mediascapes, mostly to boost the ratings of the mainstream networks — people tune in only to see the spectacle of public humiliation. And the list does not stop there. Now, even former bankers, Cohn and Mnuchin, who, one can argue, may be ethically challenged, but are nominally still highly rational, they are not making any sense either, even when it comes to counting money.