Every time a presidential election comes up, one of the big questions everyone asks is “How is the economy doing?” The answer to that question is then used as a sort of yardstick to determine how the sitting president has done over the last four years. Most economists agree, however, that it is not always quite that clear-cut. While the president’s policies, the bills that he or she signs into law and the ones that he or she vetoes, are definitely relevant, we can almost never say for sure whether or not we are seeing the full effects of current policies or of policies passed four or even eight or ten years ago.
These things take time, settling in gradually, affecting industries and making their impacts known little by little, not all at once. Causes and effects are real, they remain points to recognize, but if you think about economic downfalls and economic repairs, the stage has often been set a few years in advance. Historians regularly trace the Great Depression to the 1929 Stock Market Crash, but the excesses and faulty policies that needed to be corrected dated back several decades. Likewise, the housing crisis was not a failure of a single year but of many years, of an industry that was operating in a way doomed to become big and fail. Thus, when we examine the economy in 2018, it makes sense to ask the question: how accurate does this economy reflect Donald Trump’s policies?
Put another way, is what we’re seeing in 2018 The Real Trump Economy? Given the lengths to which Donald Trump has gone to tout the economy’s strength over the last year, this question is a natural one to ask, and the evidence that no, this is not The Real Trump Economy is ample. As we see more readily the effects of his policies pushing fossil fuels, his policies deregulating banks, and his most recent policies damaging trade relations with key allies like Canada and Germany, The Real Trump Economy is likely to rear its ugly head.
In a world that has seen the bright future of solar energy, Donald Trump is pushing coal and oil. He often uses the phrase “clean coil,” a complete misnomer, because there is no way to extract the energy within coil without burning it and giving off its byproducts. Likewise, he has tried to push policies that would make the United States more dependent on fossil fuels rather than less, which would mean higher oil prices and a lower dollar value in the long run.
As if that weren’t bad enough, he recently repealed some Dodd-Frank regulations, ushering in effectively the biggest curtailment of safety measures put into place since the recession last decade. The consequences of these actions could be even more tragic than the consequences of that last downturn, but these consequences would not start showing up for at least several more years.
Compounding it all, though, he is now creating bad blood between the United States and key democratic allies Canada and Germany, threatening tariffs or even outright bans on their imports into the United States. Once again, the consequences of these actions will not become evident until or if they have been in place for a period of several years.
So, are we seeing The Real Trump Economy? No, we are not. In all likelihood, we are seeing the tail end of the Obama economy, the hallmark of which was responsible and empathetic healthcare as encapsulated in the Affordable Care Act, a law that Trump ran on repealing but never could, given its popularity. As Trump’s economic policies, little understood or even acknowledged among the masses, start to make their effects known, then we will know The Real Trump Economy and all its horrors.