The media has taken President Trump to task for all manner of false or exaggerated claims, but surprisingly little has been said about Trump’s most glaring forays into abject hypocrisy. Recently, on the Joe Rogan podcast, economist Peter Schiff outlined how Candidate Trump rightly questioned the reliability of unemployment data and stock market performance, but reversed himself completely on those fundamental views after the election.
On the campaign trail, Trump consistently described the stock market gains of the Obama years (Dow up 147% in 8 years)* as an artificial bubble created by the Federal Reserve that would eventually pop as soon as interest rates rose. Similarly, he described Obama-era unemployment statistics (which showed joblessness in the 5% range) as “the biggest hoax in history” as the data did not reflect how Obama’s regulations had encouraged employers to replace full time workers with part time workers. Candidate Trump’s views on these issues resonated as truthful to voters and stood in contrast to happy talk from Democrats. The breadth of candor helped him carry the election.
But as president, Trump has done an unabashed 180 on both of these points. He continuously credits the 10% gain in stocks since his inauguration as a sure sign of his success. He also claims that recent drops in the unemployment rate (which have brought the numbers into 4% territory – the lowest rates in 16 years) are the proof that his policies (whatever they may be) are creating confidence and success.
The truth is that the current drift of stock prices and unemployment data is simply continuations of trends seen under Obama. No more, no less. Nothing material has been done on the monetary, fiscal or regulatory level that would have changed the course of these trends. Phony statistics then, are just as phony now. To get elected Trump claimed that the economy was a disaster. But now that he is President, he describes a nearly identical economy as a miracle of success. Of all the reversals Trump has made since taking office, these are perhaps the most brazen.