President Trump dismisses fears of US economic recession

Some economists fear the U.S. is heading towards an economic recession.

August 19, 2019, 1:31 PM

President Donald Trump and his top advisers on Monday continued to dismiss talk that the the U.S. economy is showing signs it could be headed for a recession amid his trade war with China.

After telling reporters Sunday “We have the strongest economy, by far, in the world,” the president on Monday reinforced his position, sending a series of tweets boasting that the economy is "very strong," again blaming the Federal Reserve and its chairman, Jay Powell, and accusing Democrats of trying to "will" the economy to "be bad" in order to hurt his chances in the 2020 presidential election.

President Donald Trump speaks to the press before boarding Air Force One in Morristown, N.J., Aug. 18, 2019.
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

But with the yield on a 10-year Treasury bond falling below the two-year yield, some economists say that's an indicator the U.S. is heading toward a recession.

“I don’t see a recession,” Trump said as he left a 10-day vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey on Sunday, downplaying the potential an economic drag could have on his prospects for reelection. “I'm prepared for everything. I don’t think we're having a recession. We're doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut, and they're loaded up with money. They're buying. I saw the Walmart numbers; they were through the roof, just two days ago. That's better than any poll. That's better than any economist.”

A recent survey found that about one-third of economists think the U.S. economy will be in a recession in 2021 – more than eight percent higher than a poll of economists last February.

White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway speaks to members of the news media at the White House, Aug. 19, 2019.
Leah Millis/Reuters

During an address at the Detroit Economic Club Monday, Vice President Mike Pence continued the administration's defense of the economy, declaring, “the American economy is booming.”

"Despite the irresponsible rhetoric of many in the mainstream media, the American economy is strong and the U.S. economic outlook remains strong as well,” Pence boasted. "This economy is growing and frankly you don't need to hear the statistics to know it.”

Pence warned that a Democratic victory in 2020 would "wreck" the economy and "the gains of the last two-and-a-half years would be wiped out.”

“Taxes would skyrocket. The stock market would tank. Jobs would vanish and we would get that recession these naysayers keep talking about,” Pence predicted. “President Trump and I are never going to stop fighting to make sure that never happens.”

The vice president was joined in the Motor City by Housing Secretary Ben Carson, who cited a "historically strong economy” and dismissed economists who believe there are “natural cycles” of economic growth.

“The economists [are] always saying, there are natural cycles and the economy will cycle up and it will cycle down and that it has nothing to do with who's in office. What a bunch of crap,” Carson quipped. “You get people who actually understand the economy and they know how to stimulate it and it goes up, and then you get people who say let's just tax everybody to death and regulate everything and it goes down. So it is a natural cycle in that sense but much of the credit for this rising tide belongs to this administration, including Vice President Pence."

Monday morning, White House Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway also dismissed economists’ forecasts of a U.S. recession in 2021.

“It's nice to see the media finally cover the Trump economy,” Conway said, mocking a reporter during a gaggle on the White House driveway. “You seem to cover it only when you can use the Sesame Street word of the day, ‘Recession.’”

“You're using a tweet here or a report there, or an economist's words here and there. The fact is, the fundamentals of our economy are very strong. And you know it,” Conway asserted. “We have more people working in this country right now than ever before in the nation's history. We have more people coming off the sidelines going back to work.”

Trump argued that the poll showed “most” believe there won’t be a recession.

“Most of them are saying we're not going to have a recession. But the rest of the world is not doing well like we're doing,” Trump said Sunday. “We are doing better than any country, or even area, anywhere in the world. We're doing great. And our consumer is really, really strong, and it looks like they're going to be for a long time.”

Conway said that the economy “is the president's strongest suit” and claimed that “a majority of Americans approve” of the president’s handling the economy “in most legitimate polls.”

“The fundamentals remain strong,” she said. “It's good to hear people covering the economy again after such a lengthy hiatus, but you don't have a magic wand to say, ‘And now we're in a recession.’”

On Sunday, the president maintained that “China is eating the tariffs” because of “monetary manipulation” but declined to comment when asked whether he has spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping in recent days.

“They want to make a deal,” Trump contended, adding that Xi “obviously” has the trade war in mind. “We'll see what happens. But they definitely want to make a deal.”

“It's something he could do fairly easily. It could be, unfortunately, very ruthless. So I do think it plays on his mind,” Trump added. “He's thinking about what I've had to say. It would have an impact on trade. There's no question about it.”

Peter Navarro speaks with Martha Raddatz on "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," Aug. 18, 2019.
ABC News

Peter Navarro, a White House trade adviser, predicted that the U.S. economy would be strong through 2020.

"One of the things the president does beautifully is engage with the business community, labor leaders and everybody in between," Navarro told ABC’s Martha Raddatz during an interview on “This Week” on Sunday.

During his summer break from the White House, Trump met at Bedminster with Apple CEO Tim Cook to discuss the impact of tariffs.

“Samsung is not paying tariffs because they're based in South Korea. And it's tough for Apple to pay tariffs if they're competing with a very good company that's not,” Trump said Cook explained. “I thought he made a very compelling argument, so I'm thinking about it.”

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