Trump touts economy: ‘These numbers are very, very sustainable’

Posted at 2:04 PM, Jul 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-27 16:04:03-04

President Donald Trump on Friday seized on a strong GDP growth rate for the second quarterof the year to tout the economic gains made during his presidency and argued the US is experiencing an economic boom.

The US economy grew at a 4.1% annual rate in the second quarter of the year, a figure Trump touted as “amazing” and sustainable — even as economists caution economic growth for the second half of the year will likely be slower.

“These numbers are very, very sustainable — this isn’t a one-time shot,” Trump said on Friday, speaking from the South Lawn of the White House.

The President, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and his top economic advisers, also claimed the economy is on track to hit an annual GDP growth rate of more than 3%.

“We’ve turned it all around. Once again, we are the economic envy of the entire world,” Trump said. “We’ve accomplished an economic turnaround of historic proportions.”

Economists welcomed the GDP growth figures on Friday as the latest sign of a strong US economy. But Trump’s rosy take on the long-term health of the US economy also stood in contrast to assessments that the 4.1% growth last quarter was boosted by a spike in exports driven by trade war fears.

Exports surged last quarter amid fears of rising trade tensions and retaliatory tariffs being imposed by top US trading partners. Soybean exports — a target of retaliatory tariffs from China and the European Union — shot up, likely in an effort to skirt the incoming tariffs.

The sudden rise could lead to a slump in exports in the next economic quarter.

But Trump did not urge caution on that front, instead pointing to a decrease in the US trade deficit driven by those exports, calling it “one of the biggest wins” in the economic report. The US trade deficit, Trump noted, has dropped by more than $50 billion.

Fresh off a preliminary agreement with the European Union to hold off on additional tariffs and begin negotiations toward reducing trade barriers, Trump also claimed that he has “ended” foreign trade abuses by other countries, even as trade feuds continue on several fronts.

Trump claimed that the US has been “abused like no nation has ever been abused on trade before,” including by US allies.

“They stole our jobs and they plundered our wealth, but that ended,” Trump said.

Trump was joined on the South Lawn of the White House by a coterie of aides, including his top economic advisers: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Kevin Hassett, chairman of the council of economic advisers.