Trump crows about his economy, which is starting to slow

Economists were predicting 3 percent economic growth for the final quarter of 2017. It didn't get that high

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published January 26, 2018 11:48AM (EST)

 (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

As President Donald Trump boasting of the country's economic growth since he took office, the latest economic reports indicates he doesn't have much to brag about.

The American gross domestic product grew by a rate of 2.6 percentage points in the final quarter of 2017 instead of the projected 3.0 percent growth, according to a report by the Commerce Department. This was also less than the 3.2 percent growth seen in the third quarter of 2017 and the 3.1 percent growth rate seen in the second quarter of 2017.

But, overall, 2017 wasn't a superb year, with an economic growth of 2.3 percent. While that is an improvement from the 1.5 percent gain in 2016, it is basically the same as the average 2.2 percent growth rate that the U.S. has seen since the end of the Great Recession.

As the economic news was breaking, Trump was at Davos, Switzerland, where he took credit for the economy.

After years of stagnation, the United States is once again experiencing strong economic growth.  The stock market is smashing one record after another, and has added more than $7 trillion in new wealth since my election.  Consumer confidence, business confidence, and manufacturing confidence are the highest they have been in many decades. . .

And we really though February 1st it was going to kick in and everybody was going to be — well, we haven't even gotten there yet and it's kicked in.  And it's had an incredible impact on the stock market and the stock prices.  We've set 84 records since my election -- record stock market prices, meaning we hit new highs 84 different times out of a one-year period.  And that's a great thing.  And in all fairness, that was done before we passed the tax cuts and tax reform.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told NPR that the slowdown was a " short-term aberrations," adding, "We're not concerned about any one quarter."

Mnuchin wasn't entirely wrong in thinking that economic conditions aren't entirely bad. Consumer spending increased by 3.8 percentage points and personal income increased by $66.6 billion — from $112.3 billion in the third quarter to $178.9 billion in the fourth quarter.

Although the strong performance of the economy has proved that Trump's election wouldn't cause economic catastrophe (as some predicted), the slowing rate of growth and overall inability by Trump to improve on Obama's track record in a long-term way undermines his argument that he has caused the current economic expansion. Despite claiming that the stock market would have been down by 50 percent if Clinton had won, the economic metrics show that the status quo has been basically maintained since the end of the Obama era.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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