Right wing media citing the “Misery Index” to argue that Joe Scarborough was “dead wrong” to state economy stronger under Carter than Trump. Unfortunately, these two economic records aren’t being compared apples to apples. Additionally, one administration (Trump) inherited an economy on a low-inflation, pro-growth trajectory. Carter, on the other hand, inherited a high-inflation, staglflation trajectory.
Joe Scarborough takes part in “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-To-Peer Conversations.” (Photo credit: Shannon Finney/WireImage) In a report that unfortunately received a good deal of attention, MSNBC commentator Joe Scarborough asserted that today’s economy under President Donald Trump is in worse shape than the dismal economy under President Carter in 1979. Scarborough pointed to “Jimmy Carter’s so-called year of malaise ,” which, said the former Republican congressman, had been “a lot better” than the economy under Trump. This clip reminded me why I don’t watch MSNBC. Scarborough’s demeanor was overbearing and obnoxious—smug, scornful, dripping with contempt and condescension. It was also spectacularly counterfactual. (Actually, the segment started with some other journalistic-economics malpractice: After playing a video clip of Trump from two-plus years ago saying that he thinks the economy may ultimately grow at four, five, or six percent, a female newsreader mocked Trump for having “promised” such growth, when that is clearly not what he said.) This “report” was “gotcha” journalism at its worst. It needs to be corrected before it gains further currency in the press. The only “evidence” Scarborough cited in support of his outlandish claim was a single datum—a New York Times report that GDP for the fourth quarter of 2019 was only 2.1 percent compared to the 1979 rate of 3.16 percent. These two data points were presented side by side on the big screen. Case closed, right? Wrong! The 3.16 percent figure is what economists call “nominal GDP.” But economists routinely adjust that figure […]