President Donald Trump smiles during a meeting with Chilean president Sebastian Pinera, in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
As 2019 comes to a close, one of the highlights of the Trump Administration since the former (and, some might argue, current) reality TV star took office has been the booming economy. Record high after record high, record employment after record employment, it seems like nothing could stop the Trump economy.
However, economists have been warning practically since the get-go that this economy is unsustainable. Recession looms! The yield curve is inverted! All of these are signs of yet another economic apocalypse, these economists say, and we’re simply not prepared.
Now, there is some truth behind what they’re saying. Historically, this level of growth and economic boom is usually followed by a major correction of some sort, and we should see things normalize. The problem is, every time it looks like things are about to normalize, they suddenly don’t – and, in fact, they get better. It’s almost impossible, considering everything we’ve been told.
Consider, though, that economists have predicted maybe 20 or so of the last three recessions. They panic at the first signs of it, and signs like the inverted yield curve – which has preceded every recession since we started tracking it but don’t always predict them – are often conflated with an impending economic downturn. There are no indicators that a recession is actually looming, but economists (and business/finance journalists!) want you to know it could come at any minute.
Frankly, there’s very little difference between watching a journalist report on an economist’s warnings and the old Cold War videos warning of what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. It’s all panic and little practical value.
Trump’s economy is probably not unstoppable. There is very little chance that this is the new normal. However, Trump’s policies appear to have made it to where we’re close to the new normal, that if we were to see a downturn it won’t be back to where we were, but to somewhere much higher than the last recession.
And… that’s something the Democrats are struggling to compete with on the campaign trail. It’s one of the reasons they want to focus on impeachment and race and Medicare For All and billionaires. They don’t have any working talking points against Trump’s economy right now. It could very well change, but currently there is nothing that a Democrat can say that can change what the economy looks like right now.