Trump Discussed ‘Negative Rates’ In Unscheduled Meet With Fed Chair… Is GDP 1.9% Growth ‘the Greatest’ or ‘Deep Trouble’?

Update (1120ET): Following the report that Trump and Powell discussed negative rates, among other things, the dollar has slumped to session lows, with the Bloomberg dollar index dipping below 1,200.

Source: Bloomberg

And in an amusing twist, CNBC’s Eamon Javers notes that this morning’s Fed meeting took place in the White House residence – the president’s personal quarters- not in the West Wing, where the Oval Office is.

GDP ain’t everything, by a long shot. It’s an aggregate measure of the dollar value of what the economy produces, and it fails to account for both distributional outcomes — who gets what? — and environmental degradation.

This piece is about a number: 1.9 percent. That’s the pace at which the economy grew last quarter.

Is 1.9 a good number? A bad one? Is it weak? Is it strong? Given that we’re a year out from a kind of important election, how does 1.9 look from that perspective?

They say in Washington that where you stand is where you sit, meaning views here are informed by partisan affiliation (ya think!?). For example, on the morning last week when the 1.9 percent GDP number came out, President Donald Trump tweeted: “The Greatest Economy in American History!” CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla then posted a Trump tweet from 2012: “Q1 GDP has just been revised down to 1.9% . . . The economy is in deep trouble.” At least for Trump, 1.9 percent looks completely different from his current perch.

Sadly, these days, such skewed thinking goes well beyond Washington. We’re all, apparently, a lot more polarized and thus more likely to view numbers like this through partisan lenses. But perhaps for a few minutes, we can shed those glasses and try to take an unbiased look at 1.9 percent.


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