Trump is convinced there is a conspiracy to distort economic data and exaggerate the prospect of a recession

Business Insider US
  • President Donald Trump has privately expressed concerns that opponents are exaggerating the prospects of a recession to damage his re-election chances in 2020, The New York Times reported Sunday.
  • Spooked by economic data, the president last week sought the advice of finance bosses on the prospects for the US economy, according to reports.
  • A rare inverted yield curve in bond markets and global economic slowdown has been cited by some economists as indicating that a recession may be on its way.
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President Donald Trump has claimed in private conversations that opponents are conspiring against him to skew economic data and damage his chances of re-election in 2020, reported The New York Times Sunday.

According to sources familiar with the matter who spoke to the Times on condition of anonymity, the president has told aides and allies that opponents are seeking to rob him of a key strength going into the 2020 election campaign - the strength of the economy during his presidency.

Agitated by news reports and warnings by economists of signs of a possible recession, the president has privately claimed that "forces that do not want him to win" have been exaggerating the damage his trade war has caused the global economy, according to the report. Trump has repeatedly aired conspiracy theories during his presidency, on issues such as the death of millionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein to Hillary Clinton's "missing" emails.

The president has also sought to blame critics for the data in tweets and public statements, last week claiming that "the Fake News Media is doing everything they can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election."

He has also lashed out at Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell, a man whom he personally selected to lead the Fed, and called "strong," "committed," and "smart," when he was first appointed.

In a message Sunday, Trump boasted of the strength of the US economy, and in remarks to reporters said the US economy was outperforming other economies.

"The rest of the world, if you look at Germany, if you look at European Union; frankly, look at the UK - I mean, look at a lot of countries - they're not doing well.

"China is doing poorly," said Trump. "Parts of Asia are doing poorly. We are doing better than any country, or even area, anywhere in the world."

Concerns of a possible recession were heightened last week after the yield curve in the US bond market inverted, an indicator that often points to a coming recession or significant slowdown in economic growth.

An inverted yield curve comes when it is cheaper for the US government to borrow for ten years rather than two. This is because the interest rates on short-term bonds are higher, because people are worried about short-term economic prospects, and shy away from investing in short-term debt.

It comes amid a slowdown in major economies around the world including China and Europe's powerhouse, Germany. Some of that slowdown, particularly in China, has been blamed by economists on Trump's ongoing trade war.

However some members of Trump's own economics team believe that the prospects of a recession are being exaggerated, backing up the president, and that sales and employment figures and other data show that the US economy is likely to remain strong.

Average earnings rose 3.2% in the year to July, while nonfarm payrolls, the key measure of US employment, increased by 164,000 jobs in the month.

"There is no recession in sight," White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Fox News Sunday.

"Consumers are working. Their wages are rising. They are spending and they are saving."

Last week, however, the Washington Post reported that some in the administration worry about a looming recession, but are not making any formal plans for it, believing that doing so could help precipitate a crash.

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