The old saying “time heals all wounds” applies to the economy. Stung by the Great Recession, it has taken a decade for many Americans to feel safe in their jobs and investments again.
The polls tell the story. As 2019 winds down, the economy is getting its best rating in almost 20 years. Overall, 76% of those polled rate the economy very or somewhat good, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. That’s up nine points from last year and the highest percentage since February 2001.
Time gets some of the credit. The president and his bullish megaphone get the rest.
Although the economy was well into recovery by the time Barack Obama left office, President Donald Trump came to the White House channeling the people in districts left behind. The big question for 2020 is whether they feel like he has helped them enough.
In his presidency, 443,000 new factory jobs have been created, far better than during the Obama years. But that growth has stalled and now the sector has turned into a recession.
Still, much of market and consumer psychology is confidence, a quality Trump has in surplus. He rarely misses a chance in front of the cameras and on Twitter to claim he has created the best economy in American history. He credits his tax cuts from 2017 and vast rollbacks of regulation.
On the debate stage last night, Democrats tried to make the case the Trump economy isn’t working for everyone.
Former Vice President Joe Biden wants to take back some of the president’s corporate tax cuts.
“We have to eliminate significant number of these God awful tax cuts that were given to the wealthy,” he said.
Senator Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg zeroed in on stagnant wages.
“People are not getting paid enough, that is not the result of some mysterious cosmic force that is the result of bad policy,” Buttigieg said.
Senator Elizabeth Warren wants to tax the mega rich to pay for programs for everyone else and Sanders wants free government-run healthcare.
Though knocking Trump on the economy is a tough sell, it is not as supercharged as the president claims. Job creation in his first 33 months in office trails the final 33 months of the Obama years.
The 2.1% economic growth in the third quarter is not the 3%, 4%, 5% or even 6% growth he promised.
But it is good enough. Recession fears from the summer have evaporated. The unemployment rate is at 50-year low. The S&P 500 is up 27% this year and the major US stock market averages are near record highs.
For markets, Trump’s impeachment is a non-event. The trade war with China ends the year simmering, not boiling. And the House passed the big modernization of NAFTA, with the Senate expected to finalize it in the New Year.
For now, the economy is clearly advantage-Trump.