There’s a lot of bad news floating around, but amid the sea of uncertainty, CNBC’s Joe Kernen wants Americans to know they are in good hands, which is why he welcomed Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross to the network’s studios on Wednesday.
Ross is still clinging to his position in the Trump administration after having embarrassed the president on the census debacle and despite being outed (again) as a hapless narcoleptic by Politico last month.
Wilbur – who on Friday will celebrate the one-month anniversary of being held in criminal contempt of Congress – chatted with Kernen about a variety of topics, employing his trademark monotone cadence to downplay the deleterious effects of the administration’s policies. Notably, he admitted that the US got nothing in return for delaying the tariffs.
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“Nobody wants to take any chance of disrupting the Christmas season”, Ross said, adding that “this was not a quid pro quo”.
Trump isn’t likely to be pleased with Wilbur telling America that the administration received no concessions from Beijing.
It’s also highly amusing that Ross would say “nobody wants to take any chance of disrupting the Christmas season”. Perhaps he’s forgotten that his boss shut down the government last December after calmly explaining how “proud” he was to furlough federal workers at Christmas in pursuit of constructing a “steel slat fence” on the southern border.
Of course, Ross wasn’t very sympathetic to those workers. “I know they are [going to homeless shelters] and I don’t really quite understand why because… there’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan”, the billionaire told CNBC in a tone-deaf interview on January 24.
As far as the inverted 2s10s curve goes (Wednesday’s big news), Ross says everyone is blowing it out of proportion.
“Formulas like that work when they work and they don’t work when they don’t work”, Wilbur said of the yield curve.
Spoiler alert: This particular “formula” doesn’t throw off a lot of false positives.
“It’s one thousandth of one percent [inverted]”, Ross said of the 2s10s, after glancing at CNBC’s real-time chart while getting powdered in the makeup room.
“You’re good at that stuff”, Kernen quipped. “That’s how much the tariffs on the aluminum cans were too”.