The Hill: “White House to forgo summer economic forecast amid COVID-19, breaking precedent”

That’s from an article today:

The White House will not release an updated round of economic projections this summer, breaking from precedent as the U.S. faces its deepest downturn since the Great Depression, two administration officials familiar with the decision confirmed to The Hill on Thursday.

The Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), the internal White House economic team, will not release the typical midsummer review of its initial economic projections in July or August even as top Trump administration officials publicly predict a swift recovery from the crisis caused by COVID-19. The projections are typically produced jointly by the Office of Management and Budget, CEA and Treasury Department.

What does this decision mean, effectively? It means that the Administration’s already optimistic forecast (as of January) is now ludicrously delusional.

Figure 1: GDP in bn Ch.2012$ SAAR as reported (black), Administration January 2020 forecast (red square), CBO January 2020 projection (blue), Wall Street Journal May survey mean (teal). Source: BEA, 2020Q1 2nd release, CBO, Budget and Economic Outlook, January 2020OMB, Budget for FY2021, February 2020, Table S-9, Wall Street Journal May survey, and author’s calculations.

This decision also means, presumably, that revenue, expenditure and deficit projections will be similarly nonsensical. I found this Administration defense particularly humorous:

A senior administration official noted that there is precedent for not releasing the data, pointing to 2017, when the Trump administration did not release the economic projections. The official said that the figures were released in both 2018 and 2019.

Well, the 2017 exception was also during the Trump administration. Hence, this decision is unprecedented insofar as normally behaving administrations are concerned.

23 thoughts on “The Hill: “White House to forgo summer economic forecast amid COVID-19, breaking precedent”

  1. pgl

    Well at least Trump’s economic hacks will not have to risk catching COVID-19 in order to cook up what would be an obvious lie!

  2. baffling

    and now trump wants to start a war with twitter
    as a twitter owner, i applaud the move. i also think they should take a step further and freeze his account this summer, right as the presidential race heats up. if trump thinks twitter is so liberal, why does he continue to use it? why not use that conservative tech site known as myspace? why must he use liberal tools?

    1. noneconomist

      He criticized and condemned Twitter on Twitter—to 80 million “followers” (?)—and threatened to shut it down, making him unable to continue to tweet to those 80 million?
      Somehow, that makes perfect sense.

  3. Barkley Rosser

    Can anybody explain why apparently Krugman is now running around saying this will look like 1982-83, the classic V recovery? Back then interest rates were extremely high, well up into double digits, and it was Volcker masssively lowering them after Aug. 1982 that set off the strong rebound that gave us Reagan’s “Morning in America.” As of now interest rates are effectively zero, at least the target ones are. Where is there any room for any policymaker to repeat what Volcker did, although I grant that the fiscal stimulus this time is larger than the one was then, although there was one then.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Barkley Rosser: It’s a conditional forecast: “So if we were patient and self-disciplined, we probably could eventually see rapid recovery. But “self-discipline” isn’t a term many people would apply to Donald Trump.” So, in essence, he is ascribing a low probability to the outcome.

    2. The Rage

      There was nothing v about the 80’s. Trend growth was 2.4%. It was frankly the first lazy J recovery that was a departure by its slower growth. Only 2 years rebounded quickly…….then a slowdown before a reboost.

      1. Barkley Rosser


        It was upfront before growth got back on longer term trend. In 1983 US GDP grew 7%. The rate slowed down after that, and, of course the decasde average includes the negative sharp recession year of 1982. It was a V.

      2. pgl

        How many things can you get wrong? OK it was not a supply side miracle but growth from 1981 to 1992 averaged a tad over 3%. Stop making false claims and check the damn data.

        1. The Rage

          Trend growth was 2.3 in total, how impressive was 3%+??? Not very. Boomer inflated. We could have about that total of growth in the 2010’s with a similar cohort.

  4. Alan Goldhammer

    What is far worse IMO are the reopening guidelines which run in the opposite direction of good public health. Someone deleted the caution against church choirs when we know from the Washington state case that spread of COVID-19 is enhanced by close contact and violent breath respiration that is common in choral singing. I sing in a couple of choirs and there is no way I’m going back to rehearsals or performing until there is more immunity in the community (nice rhyme!). Here is the WaPo link:

  5. spencer

    In the just released second estimate of first quarter GDP corporate profits were already plunging in the first quarter evfen though the Covid-19 was just starting.

    Does the severe strain on profits imply that business will be very slow to bring back employes in an attempt to rebuild profits?

    1. Willie

      He has spent his entire life blaming others and promoting himself by tearing others down. This is no surprise. I am looking forward to his eventual removal from office and removal from our public consciousness.

    2. The Rage

      I can confirm the bogus cdc claims blacks only make up 13% of the total population, which is a lie to stoke race wars. Truth is, blacks have faired a bit better than whites and much better than Hispanics.

      1. Barkley Rosser


        You “can confirm the bogus cdc clsims [sic] blacks make up 13% of the total population…”? You are confirming something that is “bogus”? What”

        As it is, I think the correct number is actually closer to 12%, not 13%, although I am not sure how any such number, whether larger or smaller, would somehow on it own “stoke race wars.” This is an exceptionally incoherent comment by you.

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