Yesterday, President Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser made his case for the boom.
Calling mainstream predictions “pure nonsense”, Larry Kudlow declared that the expansion already the second-longest on record is merely in its “early innings”.
“The single biggest event, be it political or otherwise, this year is an economic boom that most people thought would be impossible to generate,” Kudlow said at a Cabinet meeting, speaking at the president’s request and looking directly at him.
“Not a rise. Not a blip.” “People may disagree with me,” Kudlow continued, “but I’m saying this, we are just in the early stages”.
The US economy grew for seven straight years under President Barack Obama before Trump took office early last year. Since then, it’s stayed steady, and the job market has remained strong. The stock market is also nearing an all-time high, a sign of confidence about corporate profits.
Economic growth has picked up this year, having reached a four-year high of 4.1% at an annual rate last quarter. Job gains are also running at a slightly faster pace than in 2017.
Most analysts see the economy growing a solid 3 per cent this year a potential political asset for Trump and the Republican Party, especially with the approach of November’s congressional elections.
Yet it’s hard to find any outside mainstream economists who would agree with Kudlow’s assertion that the Trump administration can accelerate or even sustain that growth rate.
Analysts generally expect that the benefits from Trump’s tax cuts and an additional $300 billion in government spending that he signed into law in February will gradually slow along with economic growth.
Most also say the Fed’s continuing interest rate hikes, combined with the trade conflicts Trump has sparked with most of America’s trading partners, could also limit growth.
Economists have generally forecast that the pace of annual economic growth will slip to about 2.5% in 2019 and then less in the subsequent years.
Even within the government, the leading forecasts are more sober. The Fed expects growth to slip to 2.4% in 2019 and 2% in 2020. The Congressional Budget Office said this week that growth would likely slow to 1.7% in 2020.
During the longest US expansion, from 1991 through 2001, the working-age population grew an average of 1.2% a year. Yet from 2008 through 2017, it expanded an average of just 0.5% annually.
A second factor is the growth of worker productivity the amount of output per hour worked which has fallen by half in the decade since the Great Recession, from a 2.7% average rate to 1.3%.