Two of President Donald Trump’s top economic advisers sought on Sunday to tamp down concerns that the U.S. may be sliding into a recession.
In appearances on the news show circuit, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro and chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow rattled off a list of positive statistics about the economy under Trump.
“Before I came to the White House, I spent a better part of 20 years forecasting the business cycle and stock market trends, and what I can tell you with certainty is that we’re going to have a strong economy through 2020 and beyond with a bull market,” Navarro said on “This Week“ on ABC.
Independent economists have been less optimistic, noting in particular the inversion of the Treasury yield curve — a pattern that has occurred before every recession since the 1950s.
Navarro addressed this, saying, “It’s flat, but not for bad reasons — but for good reasons.”
The comments came after a roller-coaster week on Wall Street, marked by the Dow Jones Industrial Average fluctuating by 300 points on four out of five trading days, including an 800-point drop early in the week. Trump’s decision on Tuesday to delay further Chinese tariffs until Dec. 15 did little to calm investors.
But “we have blowout retail sales,” Kudlow told “Fox News Sunday” guest anchor Dana Perino.
“Consumers, first of all, they’re working; the employment numbers are terrific,” Kudlow said. “Second of all, they’re working at much higher wages. Third of all, they’re spending. And fourth of all, interestingly, they are even saving while they’re spending. That’s about as good as it gets.”
The unemployment rate in July was unchanged from the previous month at 3.7 percent, while average hourly wages were up 3.2 percent over the previous year, up slightly from June but a slowdown from early in the year when wages hit 3.4 percent.
“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd noted that Kudlow wrote in December 2007 that there was “no recession coming” just months before a massive downturn.
“Well, I plead guilty to that late 2007 forecast,“ Kudlow responded. “I plead guilty.”
Appearing on “This Week,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who is running for president, disagreed with Navarro’s economic outlook, saying she was “concerned” about the possibility of a recession and so were the people she’d met on the campaign trail.
“I’m concerned because I think ‘NAFTA 2.0’is a disaster,” Gillibrand said, referring to Trump’s North American free trade agreement. “I think it was a giveaway to drug companies in Mexico. It’s going to harm our jobs. President Trump said, ‘No bad trade deals.’ Not only has he entered into them but he’s started a trade war with China, and it’s really harming producers.”
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Navarro said the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that would replace NAFTA should have passage by early October, “if Congress rises above partisan politics.” And as for the China tariffs, Navarro insisted: “They’re not hurting anybody here. They’re hurting China.”
Later Sunday, Trump reinforced that position.
“China is eating the tariffs because of monetary manipulation, and also they’re pouring a lot of money into their country because they don’t want to lose jobs,” he told reporters in New Jersey before returning to Washington.
“I don’t think we’re having a recession,” he added. “We are doing tremendously well, our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut, and they’re loaded up with money. They’re buying. I saw the Wal-Mart numbers, they were through the roof just two days ago. That’s better than any poll. That’s better than any economist.”