Sorry Donald: The Economy Is About the Same as Usual

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Donald Trump is whining again:

The #FakeNews MSM doesn’t report the great economic news since Election Day. #DOW up 16%. #NASDAQ up 19.5%. Drilling & energy sector way up. Regulations way down. 600,000+ new jobs added. Unemployment down to 4.3%. Business and economic enthusiasm way up- record levels!

Let’s check this out. The Dow is definitely up, but the rest is a little dicier. First up is “Drilling & energy sector way up.” If Trump is talking about energy stocks, he’s wrong: the S&P 500 Energy Sector has been dropping all year and is well below its Election Day level. The real world looks pretty flat too:

Next up: “Regulations way down.” How do you even measure this? Congress has killed off about a dozen Obama regs that took effect a few months ago, but that’s a drop in the ocean. And I assume that routine rulemaking has continued in the meantime. I think it’s safe to say that federal regulations aren’t “way down,” but beyond that there’s no good way to evaluate this so early in Trump’s term.

Next up: “600,000+ new jobs added.” True enough. But not so impressive compared to Obama’s second term:

Next up: “Unemployment down to 4.3%.” That’s true. But once again, nothing to brag about compared to the trendline Trump inherited:

Next up: “Business and economic enthusiasm way up- record levels!” Consumer sentiment is pretty easy to measure. If we give Trump credit for everything since Election Day, he produced a nice jump in December, but nothing much since then:

As for business sentiment, I’m not sure how to measure it. How about looking at business fixed investment in equipment? That should provide a decent idea of how optimistic businesses are feeling right now. Here it is:

Basically, both the stock market and consumer sentiment got a bit of a kick from Trump’s election but have been pretty flat since then. All the other stuff is either normal or a bit lower than Obama’s record. For the last several years the economy has been good but not great. It still is.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend