Where’s That 4% Growth Trump Promised (or For That Matter, 5%)?

We have two and a half years of observations on GDP, and a couple quarters of nowcasts, to consider. (And if you’re planning to pull a “Mick Mulvaney” and say Trump never predicted 4% or 5%, see here.)

Figure 1: GDP in bn. Ch.2012$, SAAR (dark bold blue), Macroeconomic Advisers nowcasts (light blue), and 4% trend (red), all on log scale. Light orange shading denotes Trump administration. Source: BEA, 2019Q2 3rd release, Macroeconomic Advisers (10/22), and author’s calculations.

Well, I’ll file this prediction with “The Kurds are happy” and “phoney emoluments” clause.

32 thoughts on “Where’s That 4% Growth Trump Promised (or For That Matter, 5%)?

  1. pgl

    “And if you’re planning to pull a “Mick Mulvaney” and say Trump never predicted 4% or 5%”

    Trump never predicted it in Latin so your link does not count. Mulvaney never said “quid pro quo” so nothing there. Oh wait Bill Taylor did say “quid pro quo”. Whoops!

  2. pgl

    ‘I’ll file this prediction with “The Kurds are happy”’.

    Remember we have the ‘Ultimate Solution’ to the Kurd Question. A lot like the Final Solution to the Jewish Question.

    1. Willie

      Only if Moscow Mitch and the rest of the gang don’t somehow misunderstand with selective incomprehension.

  3. Moses Herzog

    At a certain point, it gets hard to track all of donald trump’s LIES and all of donald trump’s crimes. I’m very curious where “family values” “conservative” Republicans and southern Evangelicals rank stealing money from children with cancer?? Where exactly does that rank on the thousands of lies donald trump has told?? These people want to run out and vote for a bastard who steals money from children with cancer??

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2017/06/06/how-donald-trump-shifted-kids-cancer-charity-money-into-his-business/#404040c76b4a <<—-leftist liberal Forbes magazine

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/06/06/report-trump-used-kids-cancer-charity-funds-business/102565070/ <<—-USA Today, owned by leftist liberals Gannett


    Bruce Hall?? Rick “Peter J Wallison Wannabe” Stryker?? Southern Evangelicals who “treasure life”, what say YOU???

    1. Moses Herzog

      I already know David Brooks’ opinion. He’s ready to personally put up the rhetorical barricade protecting a man who steals money from children with cancer.

      What I need to know is the stance of moderates like Ted Cruz, Newt Gingrich, Rand Paul, Rick Stryker, and Bruce Hall—will these guys use their “deep family values” and “concern for religious rights” to support stealing money from children with cancer??

    2. Willie

      I say worry less. They have their own souls to save. Trump is doing what he’s doing. The economy is going to be the final nail, not Ukraine. That’s my opinion. The general populace probably doesn’t know what 2% growth means in relation to 4% growth, but they sure do know when prices go up or they don’t have work. Tariff Man will make both of those things happen. Then, we have a long period of damage repair ahead of us. The general populace includes Evangelicals and others who have been led down the garden path. Being outraged is all fine and good, but it doesn’t solve much. I’m not willing to put too much blame on people who are being herded. On their leaders and those responsible for the propaganda that keeps those people in an information abyss? Sure.

  4. Bruce Hall

    In the spirit of the post, I’ll offer these:

    • A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar. — Henry Louis Mencken

    • If a politician isn’t doing it to his wife, then he’s doing it to his country. — Amy Grant

    • The ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen. — Winston Churchill
    On qualifications desirable for prospective politician.

    • A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker. — Henry Louis Mencken

    “The publication (Newsweek) reports that so far, Donald Trump has kept 8.8% of his campaign promises. He has compromised on 6.9% of his promises. The publication characterizes 32.4% of his promises as “stalled.” A further 45.1% remain “in the works.” And so far, Trump has definitively broken 6.9% of his campaign promises. Politifact reports that during his presidency, Obama kept 48.4% of his promises. He compromised on 27.4% of them. And he broke 24.2% of them — a percentage that we’ll have to wait to see if Donald Trump will improve upon.” https://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/who-broke-more-campaign-promises-donald-trump-or-barack-obama.html/

    Perhaps the line should have been “Drain the Sewer”.

    1. Barkley Rosser

      It is not always a good thing to keep campaign promises if they happen to be to do stupid or wrong things. Thus when Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, one of the stupidest and dangerous things he has done in his presidency, he got lots of praise from much of the media because he had “fulfilled a campaign promise.” Gag

      1. noneconomist

        When you can’t deliver on a 2000 mile long border wall (35 feet tall, constructed with modular concrete, paid for by Mexico), your supporters take what they can get.

    1. 2slugbaits

      LE Better yet, why not just compare Team Trump’s promise to a simple ARIMA(1,1,0) w/constant forecast using data from 2009Q3 thru 2016Q4? Of course, “Statman CoRev” would complain that the forecast was useless because it didn’t hit the mark to the third decimal place. The point is that almost anyone with a warm pulse could have come up with a better forecast than the obviously dishonest garbage coming out of Team Trump’s rear end.

  5. Moses Herzog

    Folks, sometimes, (not all the time) age is something to be admired and respected. As someone who experienced the country for a fair amount of time, I think I can say mainland Chinese respect the elderly more than Americans do and have a healthier mental attitude towards the aged. Don’t know what I mean when I say age is something to be admired?? Observe:

    1. pgl

      Gabriel Zucman has written some really good papers on this topic. He was on MSNBC yesterday. It is good to see that Warren is consulting with actual economists. Back in 2016 I had called for Sanders to do the same. And no Steph Kelton and Gerald Friedman did not cut it.

  6. Julian Silk

    Dear Folks,

    This isn’t exactly on the topic, since it doesn’t answer the question of how the 4% growth rate was ever supposed to come about, or whether it will. The exact mechanics, in terms of changes in particular types of investment or labor participation, were never explained. But this article should be of interest to Menzie, maybe Jim Hamilton, and the other people who are on the weblog here. It is not clear how this relates to the usual econometric finding that the average of separate forecasts is usually more accurate than one forecast.



    1. pgl

      Princeton Stevie has a plan to get us back to 4% real growth! DEMOGRAHICS! You see – we either need mothers to have 6 babies per family or massive immigration. That way absolute real GDP with grow faster even as income per person likely will fall. Now you might state the correct metric should be real income per person but remember Princeton Stevie has no clue what he is babbling about.

    2. pgl

      “Indexes that combine several macroeconomic measures have historically done better than other indicators at signaling recessions up to one year in advance.”

      A point that continues to escape the limited mentality of Single Statistic Bruce “no relationship to Robert” Hall.

      1. Bruce Hall

        Hey pgl, I agree, demographics have no impact on economic growth; it only matters who is president.

        Here in Michigan, we have whole counties with hardly any children. They were doing great until Trump became president. But we’re not worried because our new Democratic Party governor will fix everything with her 45-cents per gallon gasoline tax increase. Maybe she’ll build some new roads to those empty counties. If she builds it, they will come? Or maybe she should just build dozens of new state colleges in those gray counties so they’ll fill up with students? Demographics be damned!

        https://www.freep.com/in-depth/news/education/2019/10/21/michigan-rural-poverty-aging-jobs-education/3828207002/?fbclid=IwAR2YXCztY0EUrPAnFXowjUVKWqu3IWTsDrp3JX9H7fvmCifqR854iWk9xx8 .

        Oh, I’m open to more than one metric for economic activity. Should we zero in on this? https://data.oecd.org/leadind/composite-leading-indicator-cli.htm . I mean, why use historical data like GDP when you can use all of these leading indicators to predict the economic downturns of 2012, 2016, and 2019?

        1. Bruce Hall

          … and yes, I know that’s European data, but I’m not going to purchase the U.S. data from the Conference Board.

          1. pgl

            “I know that’s European data, but I’m not going to purchase the U.S. data from the Conference Board.”

            The OECD is a lot more than “European data”. Come on Bruce – stop trying so hard. We already know you are really dumb.

        2. pgl

          Lord – you are responding to the wrong comment unless you are also Princeton Stevie. That might make sense as he is stupid too.

        3. Barkley Rosser

          Demographic certainly impact aggregate growth. What is unclear is if they impact per capita growth.

  7. Bruce Hall

    For those who are anguishing about climate change, high property costs, lack of fresh water, high crime rates, and Republicans in the White House, now there is an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of beautiful northern Michigan where demographics ensure that you can have your pick of any place you want for practically nothing while avoiding all of those apocalyptic visions. Yes, demographics can work for you!!! Don’t wait for this opportunity to pass you by. Soon hundreds of thousands of cramped and constipated Californians and New Yorkers will be rushing to take advantage of this water and vacation wonderland. Expect to see 10% annual economic growth by 2025! And when Elizabeth Warren is elected president, you can live there for practically nothing! I promise you….


  8. baffling

    I saw rick stryker with the rest of the hooligans who stormed the secure room in congress today. Throw them all in jail. They broke the law and created a security breach taking transmission devices into a room reserved for classified data. Apparently when trump supporters cant get what they want, they throw tantrums a two year old would be proud of.

    1. pgl

      Laura Cooper must be one patient woman. She hung out throughout this farce and started his deposition at 3:30 PM. These Congressmen should be expelled from their seats for such disrespect for the nation. People like Ms. Cooper would be nice replacements for these a$$hole$.

      1. baffling

        the whole episode reminded me of a banana republic. it takes a real lack of dignity to behave as the republicans did in that fiasco. it was twenty men who are simply afraid of the big bad trump. it reminded me of scenes from high school…

        1. Willie

          As a nation, we elected a bunch of huffy children who bend the rules to suit themselves. That’s what we get for electing them in the first place. Through district and voter roll manipulations, they are doing what they can to become entrenched. So, that means we, as a nation, have to take responsibility for punishing that kind of behavior. If we don’t, it will continue and it will spread.

          A slowing economy may put a pin into the Trump bubble. Then the huffy children will have a bit of ‘splainin’ to do.

  9. noneconomist

    Hey, who didn’t believe Donald Trump when he said his policies would eliminate the national debt by 2024? All that debt, just gone. Surely, a promise that will be kept.

    1. baffling

      your sarcasm may be misplaced. it is in the realm of possibility that trump will do just that by defaulting on the debt. he may well say, this is not my debt and refuse to pay. trump is not interested in following somebody else’s rules.

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