After Tuesday’s 831 point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (the third largest drop in history — all occurring in the past two years), President Trump blamed what he referred to as the “Loco” Fed, rather than his own indefensible trade policies, for the massive selloff and generally waning confidence in the over-inflated index. Trump’s comments were a surprise to analysts who are aware of what the Federal Reserve is and know that it literally has one job: to raise interest rates when the economy is strong as a means of fending off massive inflation and to lower rates to make more money accessible during recessions. In different eras, this quantitative easing helped administrations manage robust economies to ensure that transitions to a cooling off period would not be catastrophic as well as to provide resources to the federal government to lift the country out of recession. In the age of Trump, though, any monetary policy at all is, in the President’s words, “trying to sabotage my economy.”
Trump’s frustration with the Fed, and Jerome Powell in particular, who he has chosen to chair the Fed, sheds some light on Trump’s broader economic policy, which is to superheat the economy, rip the brakes off and ensure that the country’s next recession is the darkest Goddamn thing that any of us have ever known. With more than a trillion dollars added to the national debt in his first 14 months of presidency alone, Trump continues to try to stimulate that which is already fully stimulated. Said one economist of Trump’s signature Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, “you’re giving hundreds of billions of dollars to job creators to get the unemployment rate below 5%? There’s a reason that we consider ‘full employment’ to be about 5%. As anybody who has ever known 20 people will tell you, at least one of them is unemployable. And you’re spending how much money on getting that one idiot a job?”
Government spending, of course, brought the country out of the Great Depression and it formed the basis for Obama’s recovery plan after the 2018 housing market collapse. But to the knowledge of anyone I have spoken to on the matter, it has never before been tried at anywhere near full employment or with a GDP as strong as ours. So in addition to ethical fiduciary concerns about how needless debt will effect future generations, heaping inordinate amounts of cash on tax giveaways, bloated federal budgets and a massive military welfare program raise obvious questions about whether stimulus spending will work on the economy in times of need, in the same way that the effectiveness of an adrenaline shot may be lessened by a patient’s everyday pounding of Red Bulls.
Some of those questions include, now what the fuck is this shit right here? and is it really so important that you get to send a Goddamned tweet saying you are the greatest at something that you would be willing to put the entire future of the economy at risk? But that’s kind of the deal right now. You get the super-heated, reckless economy. He gets the tweet. And it doesn’t matter that some of the regulations that Trump brags about cutting were actually designed to constrain the economy; it doesn’t matter that Republicans have quietly eliminated the restrictions placed on the housing market that incentivized financial institutions to package toxic debt for safekeeping in too-bit-to-fail pillars of the global financial system. Trump wants you to know that the economy is bigger, hotter and more explosive right now than at any time in history and, you know something, he is absolutely right.
In large part, it seems the Democratic party and their media allies are laying off of Trump for his handling of the economy. Maybe they figure that they can’t be critical of absolutely everything. Maybe they are trying not to alienate the 52% of Americans who say they approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, approval which is no doubt driven by gonzo unemployment numbers and a stock market that is so easily manipulated by a pattern of brinksmanship followed by catharsis. Maybe they think that saying something would draw attention to the fact that they don’t have an economic policy of their own.
Whatever the case, it seems that everybody who has studied the economics of the present is quietly resigned to the future politics of tribulation, and the narrative seems to work as much for Trump as it does for those who will inevitably blame him for what happens. Trump wants nothing more than for generations to always measure their situation against this radioactive present. Even if that means remembering a time when people had things; and Trump was President.