Jul 27, 2018 - Politics & Policy

Between the lines: Trump's 4% growth

Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios
Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

President Trump got his triumphant 4% economic growth moment today, and he threw together a surprise speech to celebrate on the White House's south lawn.

The big picture: This is the best quarterly growth since 2014. Trump claims we're on track for 3% this year, and previously promised rates that are even higher (and rather unlikely). Former president Barack Obama enjoyed four quarters of 4%, but his highest year topped out at 2.9%.

The good from the report:

  • Americans are saving more than we thought: "The data show the average savings rate at [7%] between 2013 and 2017, up from the previous figure of [5%]." — FT's Kadhim Shubber
  • Consumer spending is up: "Larger paychecks, pushed up in part by tax cuts and the tightening labor market that’s forcing employers to offer heftier pay, are encouraging spending." — WSJ

And the not-so-good:

  • "One-time factors": Several areas of major growth in the report were in soybeans, with farmers rushing to sell before tariffs, and oil and gas investment, which is dependent on unstable prices. — AP's Christopher Rugaber
  • Rising borrowing costs because of Federal Reserve's interest rate hikes.

Reality checks... MarketWatch's Steve Goldstein rated multiple Trump claims today. Three of note:

  1. True, if the economy doesn't stumble in Q4: “We are now on track to hit an average annual GDP of over 3%..."
  2. Possibly, but not a lock: “We are on track to hit the highest annual average growth rate in over 13 years.”
  3. Unlikely: “I will say this right now, and I will say this strongly, as the trade deals come in one by one, we’re going to go a lot higher than these numbers."

The bottom line: "The economy’s annualized growth of 4.1% in the second quarter is unlikely to be repeated soon," the WSJ's Greg Ip notes.

  • "Yet the underlying details are still impressive, pointing to an economic expansion that has picked up vigor and still has plenty of room to run."

Go deeper: Why stocks went down when the GDP went up

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