The Year in Review, 2018: Blowhards at Bay?

Last year’s recap was subtitled “Fighting against the normalization of lying”. At least this year, lies are called lies. Now it’s time to shun the liars, and relegate them to where they belong.

January: Stephen Moore continues to lie and lie and lie, as shown in “Further documentation on Stephen Moore is a liar.” He says the Federal deficit is a trillion dollars when it’s been nowhere near that.

Figure 1: Federal budget balance as reported by OMB (bold blue), and CBO projection (dark blue), and implied budget balance under HR 1 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (pink), in millions of dollars by fiscal year. Source: OMB via FRED, CBO.

February: Trump’s economics team projects an incredible (in the literal sense of the word) acceleration in productivity.

Figure 2: Nonfarm real output per hour, 1947Q1=1 (blue), Trump Administration forecast of 2.6% (red), historical average (1953Q2-2017Q3) growth rate of 2% (pink). NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Source: BLS via FRED, NBER, CEA and author’s calculations.

March: Recounting Kudlow’s (truly amazing) forecasting record. I have no doubt this record will continue to grow.

Figure 3: Case-Shiller US National Home Price Index, s.a., deflated by CPI-all (blue, left scale), and real GDP, bn. Ch.2009$ SAAR (black, right scale). NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Red line at 20 June 2005 comment on housing bubble, and pink line at 7 December 2007 on recession. Source: S&P, BLS via FRED, BEA (2017Q4 2nd release), NBER, and author’s calculations.

April: You can’t cite an index without some crazy person saying the index is “liberal”. Behold, by the critics’ criterion, the VIX is suspect. Round up the S&P500!

Figure 4: Case-Shiller US National Home Price Index, s.a., deflated by CPI-all (blue, left scale), and real GDP, bn. Ch.2009$ SAAR (black, right scale). NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Red line at 20 June 2005 comment on housing bubble, and pink line at 7 December 2007 on recession. Source: S&P, BLS via FRED, BEA (2017Q4 2nd release), NBER, and author’s calculations.

May: Donald Trump in rally says Mexico will pay for the wall, and “they’ll enjoy it”, verifying that all that is old is new again…

Figure 6: “Throwing Down the Ladder by Which They Rose,” by Thomas Nast, 23 July 1870. Source

June: People should not comment on statistics without knowing … statistics. It’s amazing how many people try to, even purported “policy analysts”. It is truly amazing how many people misunderstand a “confidence interval”.

July: Again! Stephen Moore Lies and Lies and Lies (and Hence Belongs in the Trump NEC). He says Obama never got near to 3% growth. Hmm. Doing year-on-year instead of SAAR doesn’t change the story.

Figure 7: Quarter on quarter real GDP growth, SAAR (blue). Horizontal red line at 3% growth. Circles denote 3% or greater growth. Source: BEA, and author’s calculations.

August: Don’t make absolutist statements about statistics if you want to be taken seriously, as discussed in Forecasts and forecasts without confidence intervals puerto rico

Figure 8: Quarter on quarter real GDP growth, SAAR (blue). Horizontal red line at 3% growth. Circles denote 3% or greater growth. Source: BEA, and author’s calculations

The key illustrative quote is from Steven Kopits:

Thus, the data suggests that the hurricane accelerated the deaths of ill and dying people, rather than killing them outright. I would expect the excess deaths at a year horizon (through, say, Oct. 1, 2018) to total perhaps 200-400. Still a notable number, but certainly not 4,600.

The current official estimate is 2975. I think this number is closer to 4600 than Mr. Kopits’ unambiguously definitive number of 200-400.

September: The supply-sider … dream … of a revenue boom in the wake of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act fails to materialize. But don’t expect Laffer, Kudlow, Mulvaney, Scott Walker, Sam Brownback, etc. to learn.

Figure 9: BEA, 2018Q2 3rd release.

October: Of all people, Corey Lewandowsk says the Fed is a “rogue agency”.

November: The trade war was not won “before the leaves fall”. Agriculture edition. (I call this the CoRev memorial post).

December: Stephen Moore says Powell should resign… Actually, he says the entire FOMC should be fired:

The Fed has been way too tight. They made a major blunder three months ago with raising the rates. It’s caused a deflation in commodity prices. And I will say this, David, if the Fed raises interest rates tomorrow they should all be fired for economic malpractice.

And so we end 2018 as we begin: Stephen Moore as poster child for dissemblement and/or statistical incompetence. Let 2019 be the year that Moore is relegated to FoxNews where he belongs. At least Political Calculation’s Ironman finally understood what a dead weight loss is. #TFA

91 thoughts on “The Year in Review, 2018: Blowhards at Bay?

  1. pgl

    Stephen Moore’s New Year’s Resolution? Keep on lying – in this case about real wages:

    “Danny Blanchflower: “Hey Stephen Moore you need to withdraw this lie NOW: ‘Pay gains in real terms this year are now estimated at 3 percent—one of the biggest increases in two decades’. Real hrly earnings rose 0.8% real weekly 0.5%…”

    Yes – Moore did write in the Washington Times that real wages had increased by 3% over the past 12 months. My New Year’s Resolution? Chill a bit on calling people liars and emphasize the facts.

    Hourly earnings rose from $26.54 to $27.35 per hour – a 3.05% nominal increase:

    Is Moore so stupid that he thinks consumer prices did not rise at all? Did he ask Kevin Hassett who lied to poor Stephen about this? Well – let’s help poor Stephen out. FRED?

    It seems prices rose by 2.21% over the same 12-months. So Danny is correct and Stephen Moore got this terribly wrong. We will let Mr. Moore tell us whether he was lying to us or just so incredibly stupid that he could not check the data for himself!

    1. pgl

      A nice chart of real hourly earnings over the past 5 years:

      Stephen Moore told us that 2018 was the best year in 20 years. Not quite – real earnings rose more in 2014 than they did in 2018. Of course in neither years did real wages rise by 3%.

      Stephen Moore is either incredibly stupid when it comes to these things or he is flat out lying assuming his readers are stupid.

  2. noneconomist

    You do, however, need to credit Trump for (1) getting a 10% raise for our military and (2) fulfilling his promise of pushing to build a border wall (or fence or barrier, whatever anyone wants to call it) made of steel slats that will be fully funded by Congress.
    And, lest we forget, reiterating his 2013 claim that any government shutdown is the fault of Congress because, they say, failure to reach a deal always begins at the bottom.

  3. Not Trampis

    I think one could make a case of the above is lying through ignorance rather than goebbelsising as I put it. Lying and you know it is a lie.

    1. pgl

      Lying through ignorance has always been Stephen Moore’s excuse. Someone call George Mason and ask them WTF did they give this clown a masters in economics.

  4. baffling

    i think we would be remiss if we were not reminded of the position taken by one of our own on this blog, rick stryker. just as a reminder, rick was an advocate of lying as long as trump were able to achieve his goals. rick demonstrated the true hypocrisy of the conservative mind, encouraging falsehoods as a means to an end. honesty and trustworthiness do not appear to be important in some conservative circles. and the donald continues to advocate for rick strykers dishonesty behavior.

    1. Rick Stryker

      Happy New Year Baffled.

      Trump is the most honest politician that we have seen, or are likely to see, in our lifetime.

      1. Barkley Rosser


        So, you dispute the latest estrimate by WaPo fact checker, Glenn Kessler, that Trump publicly lied las year at a rate of 15 times per day? That looks to be pretty far from “most honest,” very far indeed, in fact.

        1. Rick Stryker


          The numerous fact checker articles confirm what we already know: Trump is not a professional politician who only says what he has rehearsed. All politicians regurgitate talking points that have been pored over and fact checked by a speechwriters. Trump famously destroyed Rubio during one of the debates for robotically repeating his rehearsed talking points. Obama could not speak without a teleprompter, earning him the nickname “Totus” (Teleprompter of the United States). These politicians avoid the fact checkers’s wrath, but then they all lie through their teeth about everything that actually matters, i.e., their policies. That lying is bipartisan.

          Trump is different. He speaks extemporaneously, without prepared remarks. He says just what he’s thinking. Often he gets it wrong but I find that he’s actually right quite often and the fact checkers are wrong. But Trump doesn’t lie about what’s important–who he is and what he’s going to do. He does what he says he’s going to do, unlike every other politician.

          That’s why he’s the most honest politician we have seen or are likely to see in our lifetime.

          1. 2slugbaits

            Rick Stryker All politicians regurgitate talking points that have been pored over and fact checked by a speechwriters.

            And that’s a bad thing??? I think it’s called being careful. What’s bad is when politicians answer a question that wasn’t asked. All politicians do that. But being evasive and slippery isn’t the same thing as being an outright liar. People who are evasive at least respect the truth enough that they don’t want to be caught in a flat out lie. Trump doesn’t care about the truth, so he just blurts out whatever nonsense comes from his drug addled brain.

            These politicians avoid the fact checkers’s wrath, but then they all lie through their teeth about everything that actually matters

            Such as? Maybe you mean lies like promising that Mexico would pay for the wall. Or that one’s personal tax returns couldn’t be released because of ongoing audits. Or promising to quickly release a full and detailed statement about how Melania arrived in this country, and then two years later we’re still waiting. Or telling the country that he didn’t know anything about hush money to various women. Or promising to drain the swamp and then filling it with alligators. Or telling voters that his tax plan would hurt billionaires like himself and help the little guy. Or telling voters that he’d repeal and replace Obamacare with something much better. Or telling us that Jared is a super genius and Princess Ivanka has a deep understanding of government even though she didn’t know she had to first register to vote before she could cast a ballot in 2016. Or that trade wars are easy to win.

            He does what he says he’s going to do, unlike every other politician.

            In another weird way that’s true. He also does what he says he wouldn’t do. And he doesn’t do what he says he would do. And he doesn’t do what he says he wouldn’t do. He’s all over the ballpark on his promises. The fact is that Trump says wildly contradictory things about almost everything, which makes it pretty easy to make good on at least some of those promises. A stopped clock is right at least twice a day.

            He says just what he’s thinking.

            No, he says what he thinks the crowd wants to hear. Like some Bible thumping preacher in a tent show. Rubes with MAGA hats getting played for suckers, just like students at Trump University.

            Often he gets it wrong but I find that he’s actually right quite often and the fact checkers are wrong.

            In other words, you’re making an appeal to “truthiness.” The same kind of nonsense we used to hear from the old Barry Goldwater camp: In your heart you know he’s right.

          2. pgl

            “Trump is not a professional politician who only says what he has rehearsed.”

            WTF? He does rehearse his flack but not to the usual types. He clears his statements hourly with Sean Hannity. Get a clue Rick.

          3. pgl

            “He says just what he’s thinking.”

            I see – we are back to the spin that Trump is not lying as he is so incredibly stupid that he believes the intellectual garbage he spews. Not much of a defense Rick!

      2. pgl

        Trump is honest? He actually believes his serial nonsense? Thanks for confirming what I always suspected – Trump is by far the dumbest human ever!

      3. 2slugbaits

        Rick Stryker In a weird sort of way it’s true that Trump is the most honest politician we’re likely to see in our lifetimes. But it’s only in a weird sort of way. Trump lies…a hulluva lot. He lied when he was just a private citizen and he constantly lies as President. But he’s a spectacularly BAD liar and so it’s easy to see the truth when he does lie. He’s easily the most transparent President we’ve ever had. So even though he lies like a rug, we almost always know the truth as if he directly told us the truth. The truth always emerges from his lies. His body language is always a tell…seriously, he has to be the worst poker player ever. He constantly changes his stories about everything. And sometimes he just blurts out the truth, such as when he told us his supporters were stupid enough that they’d be with him even if he shot someone on 5th Avenue. Or when he bragged about being “Tariff Man.” Or when he told us that he loved debt and was the “King of Debt.”

        I clearly recall how in the very early days of the 2016 caucus/primary season you were appalled at how stupid and unfit Trump was and that you wouldn’t support him. You were firmly in the “Never Trump” camp. All that changed once Trump locked up the nomination. Like a lot of Republicans, you fell in line and changed your mind to whatever Dear Leader said.

        1. Rick Stryker


          I realized that Trump’s critique of conventional party politics, on the Left, but especially on the Right, was correct and decided to support him enthusiastically. It wasn’t about party loyalty.

          1. pgl

            “It wasn’t about party loyalty.”

            Really? The only two things Trump has done is to appoint a bunch of Federalist judges and pass a tax cut for the rich. I can guess you see that as Trump being a Communist!

          2. baffling

            actually, rick decided to support trump once he realized trumps true calling. trump has a complete disregard for the truth, and is willing to say anything to win any battle. that is a personality rick stryker can stand behind.

      4. Julian Silk

        Mr. Stryker,

        Are you out of your mind? Trump is lying at a rate of something like 5 verifiable lies per day! You may like what he wants to believe, but he is not suffering mere facts to interfere.


        1. pgl

          “5 verifiable lies per day!” That is a conservative estimate. One tracker has the total up to 6400 in just 23 months.

      5. noneconomist

        “Most honest politician we have seen…” Best response? Guy in stands at HS basketball game who routinely screams “Are you BLIND?” after every referee’s call.

  5. pgl

    The many lies of Stephen Moore continued on CNN per the Noah Smith twitter:

    Fortunately Catherine Rampbell was there:

    Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell busted Trump-loving economist Stephen Moore on Friday when he falsely claimed that we are seeing vast “deflation” in the United States economy thanks to interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. During a CNN appearance, Moore tried to maintain that the economy was as strong as ever, but he also blamed the Fed for tanking the stock market by raising interest rates over the past several months.
    “Both of the rate hikes were unnecessary and were a cause for deflation in the economy,” he said.
    “Wait, wait, wait!” interjected Rampell. “There is no deflation!”
    “Yeah there is,” Moore replied.
    “No there is not,” she shot back. “Look at the Consumer Price Index!”
    Moore tried to counter by noting that some prices on the Commodities Price Index had dropped — but Rampell hit back by saying that much of that was due to President Donald Trump’s trade wars.
    “Soy bean prices are falling because of the trade war,” she said.


    This continues but it seems Moore does not trust the CPI numbers published by the BLS. OK?! If Moore really thinks that we have price deflation, then why did he not claim that real wages were rising faster than that 3% nominal increase in wages.
    I still say – it is hard to tell whether Moore is lying or he is really this incredibly stupid. Bruce Bartlett years ago emailed me to lay off the lying charges as he thought Moore was stupid enough to believe his nonsense. But follow Noah’s tweet as Bruce speaks up accusing Moore of doing this garbage for 35 years!

    1. pgl

      Moore in his little spat on CNN tried to tell us that higher interest rates led to commodity price deflation, which was challenged. But Moore said he had some commodity price index to make his point.

      OK, I found an index of commodity prices:

      Looking at this chart over the past 5 years, we do see a large deflation for 2014 and 2015 when interest rates were low. Of course this was the period where Moore was predicting hyperinflation. Now interest rates are higher now but do you see a general fall in commodity prices? I don’t as these prices rose for much of the Trump era and have only recently started to come back down a bit.

      So much for Moore’s grasp of the role of monetary policy on commodity prices!

  6. Rick Stryker

    I haven’t read this blog for a year and it appears I didn’t miss anything. Looks like 2018 was just like 2017: strained accusations that people that you disagree with are “lying”‘; your refusal to acknowledge that there might be another side to the story; the same enemies list in 2018 as in 2017–Stephen Moore, Iron Man, and any conservative who has the temerity to disagree with you in the comments.


      1. pgl

        “I haven’t read this blog for a year”.

        This still could be true. Maybe Rick is a Russian bot who posts comments without bothering to read the underlying post. That would explain a LOT!

      2. Rick Stryker

        That doesn’t mean I’ve been reading it. I have a script that periodically runs on different websites and searches for items of interest. For econbrowser, I flag any mentions of my name in case I feel like defending myself. You mentioned me in March, which is why I commented. Baffled mentioned me in this post and I had some free time–classes have not resumed at the Dept of Free Market Economics at Wossamotta U. In November, I expressed my condolences to JDH.

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Rick Stryker: So in interpreting your statement:

          “I haven’t read this blog for a year and it appears I didn’t miss anything.”

          one has to think about what the meaning of the word “read” means…

          Don’t think the November post cited your name, so how’d you know? Methinks thou dost protest too much.

          1. Rick Stryker

            On JDH’s sad news, I don’t remember exactly but I do follow headlines on a great many econ blogs at I believe that’s where I saw it.

        2. pgl

          “That doesn’t mean I’ve been reading it. I have a script that periodically runs on different websites and searches for items of interest.”

          What I thought! You are a Russian bot. Thanks for confirming that.

    1. pgl

      ‘strained accusations that people that you disagree with are “lying”‘; your refusal to acknowledge that there might be another side to the story’.

      It is entirely possible that Stephen Moore believes the intellectual garbage he spews. After all – he is truly one of the stupidest person ever. Of course his boss (Trump) is clearly dumber so yea – Trump is an honest politician! Just dumber than rocks.

        1. pgl

          “he knows more too”.

          Got it. He sure knows a lot about the “true” history of why the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. I trust you saw his performance yesterday. Some on the left expressed shock at his stupid rant. Me? I have not stopped laughing.

          Donald Trump – dumbest person EVER!

  7. joseph

    Rick Stryker: “Trump is the most honest politician that we have seen, or are likely to see, in our lifetime.”

    You mean the politician who stood in front of the troops in Iraq and told them they hadn’t gotten a raise in 10 years but that he was giving them a 10% raise?” How insultingly stupid does he think the troops are. They can read their own paychecks. They aren’t the ignorant MAGA-hatters at one of his campaign rallies.

    It’s interesting what Rick Stryker considers honesty. We had Stryker’s number on day one of the Trump administration when he went all out defending Trump’s claim that he had the largest inauguration crowd in history. He had megapixel — gigapixel — pictures to prove it!

    Stryker will be forever debasing himself before his Dear Leader.

    1. pgl

      I posted something on this over at Econospeak. If we did this in real terms over the 2006 to 2018 period, it seems the increase in nominal pay barely matched the rise in the consumer price index. Of course the 2.6% nominal increase the troops will get in 2019 will represent no real increase either.

      Of course Stephen Moore thinks we are seeing deflation so this will be the great real wage increase in 20 years. Yea I know – Stephen Moore is either a liar or a village idiot.

      1. Rick Stryker


        I took a look at your comment over at Econospeak. Didn’t know about that but looks like a nice blog that you and Barkley (and some others I don’t know) are doing.

        I disagree with your point that Trump doesn’t deserve credit for the military pay increases however.

        By law, military pay increases are tied to ECI increases, subject to the power of the President to overide by executive order or Congress and the President to overide by statute. Because of budget constraints, Obama in his second term started to reduce by executive order the ECI implied military pay increases. To be fair to Obama, this policy was supported by the military brass, since relatively small changes in military pay increases adds up to a lot of money. In 2014, Obama reduced the ECI increase of 1.8% to 1%. In 2015, he reduced the ECI increase of 1.8% to 1%. In 2016, he reduced the ECI increase of 2.3% to 1.3%. And for 2017, he attempted to reduce the 2.1% ECI increase to 1.6%. It would have happened except Trump won the Presidency. Congress subsequently overrode the ECI increase back to 2.1% and Obama signed, since he didn’t have much choice.

        For 2018, the military brass persuaded Trump to initially propose to override the ECI increase of 2.4% to 2.1%. However, Trump and the Congress thought better of it and ultimately did the full 2.4% for 2018. For 2019 and 2020, Trump plans to do the full ECI of 2.6% and 3.1%. That means the over the first 4 years of his term, there will be a cumulative increase of over 10%, in contrast to about half that over Obama’s second term.

        That’s what Trump was talking about when he said to the troops that he wanted at least 10%. The “fact checkers” again got the situation horribly wrong, assuming that Trump was talking about an annual increase even though he never said that. There was a lot of debate about exactly what the military pay increase should be, since small reductions mean large savings. Trump insisted that he wanted at least 10%, although he did acknowledge the budget constraints. He meant 10% over his first term and the compromise was to do full ECI.

        1. baffling

          rick, this is a great explanation, but it is NOT what trump said. especially when you account for trumps statement “you just got one of the biggest pay raises you’ve ever received … You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years — more than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one.”

          why the dishonesty rick stryker? you are putting words into trumps mouth that he did NOT say. so both of you are lying in this case.

          1. Rick Stryker


            See my comment to Barkley. Trump, unlike professional politicians, speaks extemporaneously. That’s a big reason his supporters like him. One consequence of that is that fact checkers, who are mostly his political opponents, have a field day. These “fact checkers” start with the assumption that Trump is either incompetent or lying and, not surprisingly, that’s what they manage to find in his non-scrubbed remarks.

            If you didn’t start with the assumption that Trump is incompetent or lying, as the “fact checkers” do, you might think that Trump is smart enough to know that nobody got a 10% increase in a single year. Thus, he didn’t mean that. Moreover, since he previously referred to a “big pay raise” it is a fair interpretation of “you haven’t gotten one is that one refers to a “big pay raise” not a “pay raise.” Again, if you give Trump any credit for intelligence, which his political opponents never seem to do, he knows that the troops have been getting pay raises, just not big ones. On that interpretation of Trump’s remarks, which I think is the fair one, he should have said “in the last 8 years” rather than the last 10 years, since the troops did get a pay raise of 3.4% in 2010 but after that they were all under 2% until 2017 when he took office. You can quibble about 8 rather than 10 years if you want but that is really nitpicking.

            That Trump is somehow dishonest is a myth spread by progressives like you who lie as a matter of policy themselves. Trump is the most honest politician we’re likely to see. He’s too honest to have political operatives scrub his remarks in order to deceive the voters. And he doesn’t care that he’ll pay a political price with the phony fact checkers as a result.

          2. baffling

            “Trump, unlike professional politicians, speaks extemporaneously. That’s a big reason his supporters like him.”
            extemporaneously. i looked it up in the watsamata u school dictionary. it means to lie, to be dishonest.

            rick stryker, you do make me chuckle as you play twister with trumps words to try to make sense out of them. why not simply acknowledge, trump was not being truthful in his statements. he was simply conning those servicemen-which is his professional occupation.

            “that’s what they manage to find in his non-scrubbed remarks.”
            ie, lets rewrite history and produce a set of alternative facts that better suit our narrative, since dear leader is an idiot when ad libbing his commentary. nice.

            once again rick, i would like to reinforce your position that deceit is permissible if it achieves ones goals.

          3. noneconomist

            Well, at least Trump’s always been true to his word on the border wall.
            From the very beginning he was very clear about the construction of the wall. It could be a wall, or a fence, or a barrier–whatever they want to call it–made from steel slats, preferably see-through.
            Who would pay for it? Why, American taxpayers. Who else?
            Whoever has accused Trump of favoring a 35 foot wall made of modular concrete slabs has done a great disservice tot he truth, The guy is a great wall builder (he said so himself) who knew a congressional priority when he saw one. And the stuff about Mexico (Mexico?) paying for the wall! Who ever dreamed up that lie?
            Come on, folks. Give credit where credit is due.

        2. 2slugbaits

          Rick Stryker You’re doing it again. You’re torturing the English language. Trump lied on several counts. He lied when he told the troops that they hadn’t received a pay raise in more than ten years. At a minimum he dissembled when he left troops with the impression that they had just received a ten percent pay increase and not some fantasy nonsense about future increases. Why not promise the troops 100 percent pay increases if they want to look far enough out into the future? And he lied when he took personal credit for giving the troops a pay raise. As you noted, the ECI formula is embedded in statute. Trump simply did nothing to alter what Congress and the ECI formula did. Trump only wanted to take credit for doing nothing. Funny that he didn’t tell the troops how Trump’s VA has been playing games with and slashing GI college benefits for veterans. You should ask the local VA liaison at Wossamotta U how Trump is treating veterans.

          1. Rick Stryker


            Nope, Trump has discretion to do what he wants on military pay. He decided to increase military pay with respect to Obama’s cuts, despite the fact that he was under budget pressure not to do so.

          2. 2slugbaits

            Rick Stryker Nope. Trump simply accepted the ECI recommended formula “as is” and nothing more. If Trump were honest, which he isn’t, then he would have told the troops they would be getting a raise IAW the ECI formula rather than the reduced pay they received in previous years.

            BTW, do you know why the military brass opposed the full ECI? It’s because the services were under pressure to reduce the number of troops because of the sequester rules. Giving the full pay raise just makes it that much more difficult to get voluntary separations. Reduced pay raises encourages more soldiers, sailors and airmen to separate voluntarily. The unintended effect of Trump granting a higher pay raise will be that more troops will have to be involuntarily separated in order to meet force structure mandates.

        3. pgl

          “Congress subsequently overrode the ECI increase back to 2.1% and Obama signed”.

          In short your excuse for Trump’s blatant lie is that he followed the law wherease Obama did so only after Congress made him follow the law. Seriously Rick? That is weak even for you.

          Maybe you missed it but the troops real pay is no higher than it was in 2006. And Trump’s 2.6% will only compensate for ongoing inflation. So nothing new here – the troops are being told they are getting higher income but they know better. Do you? Nominal v. real is basic economics so maybe not.

          1. Rick Stryker


            No, you misunderstand. Congress didn’t make Obama follow the law. The law gives the President discretion to change the ECI formula which will hold unless Congress (with the President) agree to overide the President’s discretion. Obama cut the increase from the ECI default, meaning that he cut military pay in real terms. He had the legal right to do so. Trump restored the pay increases to ECI levels, even though he was under budget pressure from the military brass not to do so.

            From the mid-2000s until 2010, the military was getting real increases, since they were getting ECI + 50 basis points. In 2011, Obama started giving real decreases in military pay by executive order, which ended in 2017 with zero real increases, Trump’s policy.

  8. ottnott

    RS: “Trump is the most honest politician that we have seen, or are likely to see, in our lifetime.”

    Nothing I can say about RS that is more damning.

    Initials used instead of full name, so RS’s script won’t feed his eagerness to see every mention of his name.

        1. baffling

          are you saying that rick stryker has been posing as a different commentator on this blog?
          rick, say it ain’t so! you would not be trolling this blog under a different name, would you?
          i for one am enamored by his use of a script to spot his name. i want him to know when i call him dishonest.

        2. Rick Stryker

          I assume you mean that as a shorthand for Donald Trump? If not, I fear you are perilously close to a Type II error.

  9. baffling

    i see rick stryker has tried to change the issue. while we could go on and on about how big of a liar donald trump is, that takes us from my initial issue with rick. you see, rick is an advocate of lying to achieve ones goals. rick is not concerned with honest debate. rick has come to believe that the end justifies the means, and if lying is required to achieve that means, that is acceptable. rick actually embraced this position with trump. which leads to an issue of integrity with respect to rick stryker. why should anybody believe anything he writes on this blog? it is true, or is it a lie? his own deception destroys any credibility rick stryker may have had.

    1. Rick Stryker

      The issue is your dishonesty. Obama lied continually about really important matters. I invited you to condemn him but you won’t. You go first if you are serious and not just posturing.

      1. baffling

        rick, you are living in the past. i have already said that obama should have told the truth, and not lied to achieve his goals. and that is what distinguishes you from me. you have said it is perfectly ok for trump to lie as long as he achieves his policy objectives. so no rick, i will not let you try and change the subject. the subject is very clearly your approval of dishonesty to achieve ones goals. i warned you about this back when you said it, but you were more interested in winning your argument than what the implications were for the future. so i am here to hold you accountable for it. because you continue rick stryker, even today, to promote this position of a lack of integrity.

        1. Rick Stryker


          Trump is much more honest than Obama ever was. Most of the charges of dishonesty on Trump’s part made by progressives are false. However, I do condemn Trump or any other politician who lies to achieve his goals but only when progressives condemn their side as well.

          1. noneconomist

            You only condemn lying when others with whom you disagree admit lying too? Way to stand up for YOUR principles!

          2. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Rick Stryker: Speaking of Obama in the context of Trump, I’m still waiting to hear all that amazing stuff Trump found out about Obama in Hawaii. Can you provide a permalink to the material that Trump’s investigators unearthed?

            Inquiring minds want to know!

  10. ilsm

    Moore may have used a crystal ball.

    If he said in May 18 that the federal deficit was one trillion he was 6 months ahead of the GAO audit of the federal debt which revealed that federal debt ‘held by the public’ went up a bit more than a trillion bucks, while intra-gov debt went up a bit under $300B.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      ilsm: We’ve already had this discussion when this was first posted. We were talking about the deficit, which does not equal necessarily the change in Treasury debt. If he’d meant the change in debt, he should’ve said change in debt…

      1. ilsm

        Prof Chinn,

        I doubt Moore cares much for CBO’s recondite definition of ‘deficit’!

        According to CBO in FY 16 the reported deficit was $584.7B, while debt held by the public grew from $13116B in ’15 to 14167B in ’16. That is cash required over revenues was actually $1051B, about $465B of cash bleeding ignored.

        Why do you think Moore, myself or anyone not into political posturing would want use a DC establishment, compromised definition of ‘deficit’?

        Looking over the CBO deficit xls……. social security net outlays (small surplus in ‘end FY 16) are used to hide (as for many years since O’Neill and Greenspan filled the trust fund “pot”) federal deficits while federal outlays to ‘roll over’ notes and bills are ignored to hide the bleeding of cash from the treasury.

        However, I was happy to see CBO column for public debt was not far from the audited level for the end of FY 16.

        I read the GAO audit each year to see how much congress puts into my (with a million or so retirees) military retirement and retiree health trust funds which increase in size without anyone buying their special notes, unlike SS and medicare!

        If you read Rudyard Kipling, ‘You have to know that Tommy sees’.

        1. baffling

          “Why do you think Moore, myself or anyone not into political posturing …”
          funny, but i would certainly call moore’s commentary political posturing. he is never accurate with his numbers, and that is for a reason. he always has an agenda with his words. that would be my definition of political posturing by an administration official (or wingnut spokesperson).

          look ilsm, you are falling into the trap of our resident genius corev. you see corev neither understands the accepted technical definitions of economic words, nor uses them properly. he does this in other fields as well. so when he says something like debt or deficit (or temperature rise), it means something different to him than to the experts in the field. you are playing the same game. you want the professional field to adopt your definition rather than use their accepted definition. otherwise you will continue to be unable to properly communicate with those in the field.

        2. 2slugbaits

          ilsm According to CBO in FY 16 the reported deficit was $584.7B, while debt held by the public grew from $13116B in ’15 to 14167B in ’16.

          Any ILSM GS-0346 ought to know that CBO and OMB report budget authorizations and Treasury reports cash disbursements. Any GS-0346 should also know that the period from authorization to obligation can span several years, and the period from obligation to cash disbursement can be up to five years. There is no temporally close relationship between the deficit and the change in the debt held by the public precisely because there is no close connection between when monies are authorized and/or obligated and when Treasury makes cash disbursements. If Congress passed an FY2006 authorization to build a wall using Military Construction & Housing dollars (5 year obligation life plus a 5 year disbursement life), the change in debt held by the public might not show up until FY2016.

          Now Stephen Moore could have made a sensible macroeconomic case for concentrating on the change in the debt level. After all, changes in the debt level required to meet Treasury cash management needs are directly responsible for Treasury auctions; and it’s those Treasury auctions that have an immediate effect on interest rates. The problem is that Stephen Moore made a point of referring to the deficit and not the increase in the debt level. No one who presents himself as a talkinghead expert on economic issues should be allowed to make a mistake like that. Moore is a frequent guest on cable talk shows and he has had ample opportunity to correct the record, but so far he hasn’t. Like a good Trumper, he just doubles down on false statements.

    2. Don


      I made that point to Menzie about a year ago and offered him a chance to do the right thing and apologize to Moore. It was no use. You can’t pry the Democratic Party talking points pages from Menzie’s fingers no matter how hard you try.

    3. pgl

      Actually Moore was likely on crystal meth. He has been on drugs for 35 years based on his incredibly stupid writing over this time period.

  11. 2slugbaits

    How dumb is Donald Trump? We just learned that he’s so dumb that in filming “The Apprentice” he couldn’t follow the scripts and didn’t know what was going on, so they resorted to just filming shots of him blurting out “You’re fired!” and then filled in the story lines later. Then they would insert the “You’re fired!” line in the appropriate place.
    Not my idea of a stable genius.

  12. joseph

    So by Rick Stryker rules, “over the first 4 years of his term”, Trump’s will have (hypothetically) raises of 2.1, 2.4, 2.6, and 3.1 = 10.2%

    Over Obama’s first term there were raises (actual, not hypothetical) of 3.9, 3.4, 1.4, and 1.6 = 10.3%.

    (Compounded, you get essentially the same results, Obama’s raises were bigger.)

    Most people would consider 10.3% to be a larger number than 10.2%, but I’m sure Rick has alternative facts.

    And by the way, Obama’s first term ended 6 years ago, not 10. And that’s hardly quibbling. Why say 10 when you mean 6, unless you are simply a lying (oops, you mean exaggerating) for effect.

    1. Rick Stryker

      Your are just quibbling. OK, let’s say Trump lied about whether it was 6 years versus 10 years. I’ll take him any day of the week over a politican who lied to the public about something really significant, saying that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, and if you like your plan, you can keep your plan, in order to pass his health care plan (that the public didn’t want).

      1. pgl

        quibbling? He nailed Trump’s dishonesty. Google QED.

        Of course you are still stuck on nominal increases. Get a chalk board inflation adjusted 500 times. Maybe this basic concept will finally hit you over your empty head.

        BTW Trump has been lying about the wall for the last 35 minutes. His first 5 minutes was spent telling us how real wages have gone up by 3.2%. Now that is a lie for sure as inflation over the last year was 2.2%. But I’ll give Trump more credit than you. He did address this inflation adjusted thing by saying we have zero inflation. Another blatant lie. Under the Moron in Chief really thinks the consumer price index has not moved in the past 12 months.

    2. pgl

      A 10% nominal increase over 4 years is how much of a real increase when inflation has been near 2%? Correct answer – not much.

      I’ve tried to get across to Rick many times that Trump is NOT raising the real compensation of our troops. But then what one learns in the first week of a freshman economics class is way over Rick’s head!

  13. pgl

    If one reads the utter nonsense presented by Rick Stryker – two things stand out. His defense of Trump is a lot like what Bruce Bartlett told me about Stephen Moore. Neither are lying as both of them are so incredibly stupid they believe their serial nonsense. OK – we have an “honest” President who makes decisions based out of a complete misunderstanding of the real world. OK – but this is not the kind of person who should ever be President.

    Now on all of Rick’s babbling over military pay it is very clear that Rick seriously thinks that the percentage increase in nominal pay is a good metric for the increase in real pay. Yes Rick has taken over as the stupidest person on the planet. Well done Rick!

    1. Rick Stryker


      Whether nominal pay is a good metric for real pay is irrelevant to the question, which is: did the “fact checkers” and other progressives dishonestly interpret Trumps words in the worst possible light in order to make the case that he’s a liar? You are trying to change the subject.

      I already explained to you how military pay works and what the history has been. I even in a previous comment covered your irrelevant point, noting that the period from mid-2000s to 2010 was an era of real military pay increases (measured with respect to the ECI) whereas Obama’s second term was a time of real military pay decreases. Trump’s policy has been zero real pay increases, given the budget constraints but not real decreases as in Obama’s second term.

      Nonetheless, you make the false charge that I don’t understand the distinction between nominal and real. You call Trump a liar and yet you lie brazenly even though my comments are there for everyone to see.

      1. pgl

        “Whether nominal pay is a good metric for real pay is irrelevant to the question”

        Are you really THIS stupid? Stephen Moore explicitly wrote real wages grew by 3% last year. It is not about what is the right metric (BTW – if you understood these issues you would know real is the right metric). Moore clearly lied. If you do not know this – you are dumber than Trump.

        If you do know this – then everything you have written so far is one lie after another. It is indeed this simple.

        But yea – we get that you feel some weird need to babble on and on about nothing. After all your leader (Trump) babbled for an entire hour this afternoon. It was really sad to watch but somehow I expect you to exceed what he did!

        1. Rick Stryker


          We are not talking about whether Stephen Moore lied. We are talking about whether Donald Trump lied. Try to keep up.

          With all the trouble you are having staying on point, maybe you should reconsider that blogging thing.

          1. noneconomist

            It’s impossible to keep up with Trump’s lies. He’s the Henny Youngman of one liner falsehoods .

          2. pgl

            Both are liars. And how did I miss this in all your incoherent babbling?

            “From the mid-2000s until 2010, the military was getting real increases, since they were getting ECI + 50 basis points.”

            I hate to say this Rick but you are one stupid person. OK let my nominal pay increase = the nominal rise in ECI plus 0.5% in a year. That is not necessarily a real wage increase. If real ECI fell by 1%, my real wage fell by 0.5%.

            I thought I made it clear what my Econospeak graph represented. I took the year by year increases in military pay according to wha that military pay link showed and then I took the increase in CPI for each year. That is the right way to do it and it is also really simple. Which is why a babbling fool like you got all confused. Take a look at my graph again – real military pay in 2018 was actually lower than it was in 2006.

            No maybe that does not fit your spin. But simple freshmen economics is too difficult for you. But until you get your mixed up brain more clear – stop writing on this as you have embarrassed your poor mother enough!

  14. joseph

    Stryker: “Trump is different. He speaks extemporaneously, without prepared remarks.”

    Funny about that. Trump’s very first speech as president, his inaugural address, was read off of a teleprompter. His very first address to congress and his state of the union address has been — yes, read off a teleprompter. Should we call him TOTUS?

    Whenever Trump is required to speak coherently, he uses a teleprompter. At other times, not so important, he just free associates, in a nightmare stream of consciousness gibberish. What comes out is just a string of petty grievances from years ago, juvenile insults, ridiculous self-aggrandizement and humiliating self-pity. He’s like the senile relative who keeps telling the same trivial stories over and over and over again and just won’t quit. His narcissistic insecurities are on full display. For someone who pretends to talk tough, his precious ego is astonishingly fragile.

    1. pgl

      “he just free associates, in a nightmare stream of consciousness gibberish.”

      The other day Trump tried to convince us that the 1979 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was the appropriate thing to do . It was indeed a nightmare stream of gibberish as it got just about everything on the historical record quite wrong. Rick would not want us to say Trump was lying which is cool as Trump does come across as the moron his former Sec. of State said he was.

  15. pgl

    Lord – Rick’s babbling is off the charts but we have learned two things.

    Rick does not know the difference between the employment cost index and the CPI. He actually thinks the two series change by the same percentage each year.

    And Rick thinks it is OK for Trump’s economic advisers to lie on his behalf as long as it is not Trump telling the lie. Funny thing – the many lies of Stephen Moore often get repeated by Trump. Of course then Rick would say Trump was not lying as he relied on what his advisers have said. Pretty neat trick!

    1. pgl

      On that military pay issue, this Q&A is something Rick should be required to read especially Q4:

      “Q.4: What’s the difference between CPI (used for retiree increases) and ECI (used for active duty raises)?

      A: CPI, Consumer Price Index, measures inflation. The purpose of using CPI is to generally preserve the purchasing power of retired pay. ECI, Employment Cost Index, measures private-sector wage increases.”

      I would think everyone would know the difference between the ECI and the CPI. But apparently not Rick! Q1 is also of interest:

      “Q.1: How are annual pay raises determined?
      A: ECI is the Employment Cost Index, which is a measure of the increase in private-sector wages and salaries. It is calculated by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics and updated every three months. The ECI, reported each October, is used to determine the pay raise for the next fiscal year. The raise was set at ECI + 1/2% for 2000 through 2006. The FY2004 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) established that the military pay raise will be equal to ECI after 2006.

      Of course, Congress can enact raises that exceed these percentages as they did for 2008 and 2009.”
      On this one – Rick is confused about the roles of the White House and Congress here. But this figures as Trump thinks he can act on budgetary matters with no role from Congress!

      1. Rick Stryker


        “Of course, Congress can enact raises that exceed these percentages as they did for 2008 and 2009.”
        On this one – Rick is confused about the roles of the White House and Congress here. But this figures as Trump thinks he can act on budgetary matters with no role from Congress!”

        I’ve already explained this to you. The statutory ECI raise is the default unless the President alters it or the President and Congress alter it by a specific bill 37 US code 1009(e) gives the President the power to alter the statutory formula. Obama used that power in his second term to reduce military wages below the ECI default. As I said, Trump was under pressure to do the same but didn’t. He did initially exercise his authority for 2017 to reduce the raise below ECI but thought the better of it and he and Congress did the full ECI raise. I’ve already pointed out these facts to you.

        Try to keep up. If you don’t understand something, feel free to ask questions (but they should be polite questions.)

        1. pgl

          “I’ve already explained this to you. The statutory ECI raise is the default”

          Did you play the role of Giliigan or what? No twit – I was the one who first posted this. Now you repeat what I posted as if you explained it to me? Just call me the Professor!

          Like I said earlier – your incoherent babbling is off the charts.

          1. Rick Stryker

            You really can’t keep up.

            I was responding to your incorrect point that allegedly Trump can’t act on military pay without Congress. But of course he can. Why do you think I posted the statute I did?

            Like I said: if you don’t understand, feel free to ask questions, but politely. You seem to also having trouble understanding the “polite” part.

          2. Rick Styker

            By the way, speaking of incoherent babbling, I’m not sure why you keep talking about ECI vs CPI. Of course, I know how they differ and I understood your simple point from your econospeak blogpost about real military pay. But, just to reiterate, since you don’t seem to get it the first time, I disagreed that Trump should not get credit since he resisted the budgetary (and military brass) pressure to keep the pay increases below the ECI. Trump deserves credit for that.

          3. baffling

            none of this discussion really changes the facts that donald trump lied to the military servicemen, or that rick stryker applauds the use of lies to achieve one’s goals. lack of integrity from both individuals.

Comments are closed.