In what was either an attempt to distract from a deluge of truly horrible legal news or else an example of Trump cranking the populist bombast knob up to a Spinal Tap-ish “11” to try and retake control of the economic narrative amid a weeks-long backlash against the administration’s protectionist trade policies, Donald Trump held a nationally-televised press conference on Friday morning to celebrate the release of quarterly GDP data.
Is it normal to hold a press conference to mark the release of quarterly GDP numbers? No. Or at least not that I can remember, but then again, Trump is forcing America to reconsider what is and isn’t normal on a daily basis. Everything he says and does is so out of step with precedent and decorum that we’re all constantly asking ourselves “Is it just me, or is that crazy?”
Friday’s data showed the U.S. economy expanding at an annualized rate of 4.1% in Q2, just shy of estimates, but still robust. Trump basically leaked the numbers while shouting at steel workers in Granite City, Illinois on Thursday.
To be absolutely clear, there is nothing extraordinary about these numbers. Are they good? Sure. Are they a historical outlier? Absolutely not. They are not even an outlier based on recent history. Here’s what Gluskin Sheff’s David Rosenberg wrote on Friday morning:
There’s been 4 other times this cycle when real GDP growth was 4% or better. You would think based on all the buzz right now that the last time this happened the dinosaurs roamed the earth. The biggest deficit-financed tax cut in 32 yrs – what would you expect? Watch for a Q3 dud.
But don’t tell Donald Trump that. Here’s what he said on Friday, in his best Mussolini voice, flanked by Mike Pence (or a smiling mannequin dressed up like Mike Pence – it wasn’t entirely clear which):
Got that? Let’s review:
Moments ago, the numbers for Ameriker’s eaaakohnomic growth – or Gee-Dee-Pee – were just released, and I am thrilled to announce that in the second quarter of this year, the United States economy grew at the amazing rate of 4.1%.
Sounds impressive right? Well, no. Not to anyone who’s taken econ 101, but to Trump’s base it might sound impressive, so in the interest of putting this in perspective, here’s what “amazing” looks like:
He goes on in that clip to make all kinds of projections and to suggest that as the trade deals “come in one by one” (call it “trickle in” trade economics), things will get even better. Almost no economists agree with that assessment.
The rest of Trump’s speech was almost entirely comprised of half-truths, exaggerations, outright lies and, of course, references to “many, many” unspecified things that haven’t happened “in many, many years”.
Trump went on to “explain” (for the billionth time) how a gang of cruel international robbers has “plundered America’s wealth”. He also called America the most “abused” nation in history:
This is so laughable that the English language isn’t a sufficient tool to communicate the sheer absurdity inherent in Friday morning’s spectacle, but suffice to say almost nothing Trump said in that speech was entirely accurate.
He could have just saved everyone some time and aired the Vice News “what’s happening” mashup, because that’s all Friday’s speech was…