Krugman reacts to Donald J. Trump

January 24, 2017

Krugman reacts to Donald J. Trump— “somehow we’re going to have to survive four years of this temper tantrum”.

If America had a parliamentary system, Donald Trump — who spent his first full day in office having a temper tantrum, railing against accurate reports of small crowds at his inauguration — would already be facing a vote of no confidence. But we don’t; somehow we’re going to have to survive four years of this.

Image result for Nobel Laureate paul krugman

And how is he going to react to disappointing numbers about things that actually matter?

In his lurid, ghastly Inaugural Address, Mr. Trump portrayed a nation in dire straits — “American carnage.” The real America looks nothing like that; it has plenty of problems, but things could be worse. In fact, it’s likely that they will indeed get worse. How will a man who evidently can’t handle even the smallest blow to his ego deal with it?

Let’s talk about the predictable bad news.

First, the economy. Listening to Mr. Trump, you might have thought America was in the midst of a full-scale depression, with “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.” Manufacturing employment is indeed down since 2000; but overall employment is way up, and the unemployment rate is low by historical standards.

And it’s not just one number that looks pretty good: Rising wages and the growing number of Americans confident enough to quit their jobs suggest an economy close to full employment.

What this means is that unemployment probably can’t fall much from here, so that even with good policies and good luck, job creation will be much slower than it was in the Obama years. And since bad stuff does happen, there’s a strong likelihood that unemployment will be higher four years from now than it is today.

Oh, and Trumpist budget deficits will probably widen the trade deficit, so that manufacturing employment in particular is likely to fall, not rise.

A second front on which things will almost surely get worse is health care. Obamacare caused the percentage of Americans without insurance to fall sharply, to the lowest level ever. Repeal would send the numbers right back up — 18 million newly uninsured in just the first year, eventually rising to more than 30 million, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates. And no, Republicans who have spent seven years failing to come up with a real replacement won’t develop one in the next few weeks, or ever.

On a third front, crime, the future direction is unclear. The Trump vision of an urban America ravaged by “the crime and the gangs and the drugs” is a dystopian fantasy: Violent crime is, in fact, way down despite highly publicized recent murder increases in a few cities. Crime could, I suppose, fall further, but it could also rise. What we do know is that the Trump administration can’t pacify America’s urban war zones, because those zones don’t exist.

Image result for Donald Trump

So how will Mr. Trump handle the bad news of rising unemployment, plunging health coverage, and little if any crime reduction? That’s obvious: He’ll deny reality, the way he always does when it threatens his narcissism. But will his supporters go along with his fantasy?

They might. After all, they blocked out the good news from the Obama era. Two-thirds of Trump voters believe, falsely, that the unemployment rate rose under Obama. (Three-quarters believe George Soros is paying people to protest Mr. Trump.) Only 17 percent of self-identified Republicans are aware that the number of uninsured is at a historic low. Most people thought crime was rising even when it was falling. So maybe they will block out bad news in the Trump years.

But it probably won’t be that easy. For one thing, people tend to attribute improvements in their personal situation to their own efforts; surely many voters who gained jobs over the past eight years believe that they did it despite, not thanks to, Obama policies. Will they correspondingly blame themselves, not Donald Trump, for lost jobs and health insurance? Unlikely.

On top of that, Mr. Trump made big promises during the campaign, so the risk of disillusionment is especially high.

Will he respond to bad news by accepting responsibility and trying to do better? Will he renounce his fortune and enter a monastery? That seems equally likely.

No, the insecure egomaniac-in-chief will almost surely deny awkward truths, and berate the media for reporting them. And — this is what worries me — it’s very likely that he’ll try to use his power to shoot the messengers.

Seriously, how do you think the man who compared the C.I.A. to Nazis will react when the Bureau of Labor Statistics first reports a significant uptick in unemployment or decline in manufacturing jobs? What’s he going to do when the Centers for Disease Control and the Census Bureau report spiking numbers of uninsured Americans?

You may have thought that last weekend’s temper tantrum was bad. But there’s much, much worse to come.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on January 23, 2017, on Page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Things Can Only Get Worse.

21 thoughts on “Krugman reacts to Donald J. Trump

    • LOL. Who’s Donald Trump? Unlike great majority of other countries in the world, the President of the United States is not high and mighty over the people. In fact, he is only a temporary public servant and we the people are his boss. We do not owe him unquestioning allegiance by virtue of his office. He has to earn our support and respect. He has to learn to live with us and listen to our voices. He has four years to prove himself. If he passes his tests, his contract will be extended four more years. If not, to use his favorite line: “You’re fired!”

  1. There have also been winners and losers whenever
    there is change in leadership of countries-NGOs’-companies-religions-societies-trust funds-positions of any power positions there will be NEW SETS OF WINNERS AND LOSERS and most will be thosr connected to the new winners.

  2. Too early to say if it will be better or worse… but just ponder his initial moves…the US is on course to leave the hugely unpopular TPP… and the President is reported to have indicated that he will negotiate a reduction of nuclear weapons…

    Any complaints…anyone…?

    • That simply shows me Trump’s very confusing thoughts on nuclear weapons.

      Less than a month ago, Trump tweeted that the US “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” When MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski asked him about the possibility of this policy setting off an arms race with Russia, Trump’s answer was simple: “Let it be an arms race.”

      Just days before his inauguration, the hubbub over his attack on European allies obscured one of the stranger comments in the interview with two of Europe’s biggest newspapers — that he hoped to work with Putin to reduce both countries’ nuclear arsenals. “Let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia,” Trump said. “For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially.”

      To say this is a flip-flop is an understatement. So where does Trump stand? With his comments from December, or with his comments from January?

  3. What Paul Krugman wrote is all true. Obama inherited the Great Recession created by the idiot Bush. When he left office he had brought down unemployment to a remarkable 4.6%. In the Bay Area 9 counties, 8 are below the national average: San Mateo County 2.7%, Marin County 2.9%, San Francisco County 3.0%, Santa Clara County 3.3%, Sonoma County 3.7%, Alameda County 3.8%, Contra Costa County 4.0%, Napa County 4.4%, and Solano County 5.1%.

    Since my retirement I’ve opened a small bakery and coffee shop in the San Mateo County. I’ve great difficulty looking for helpers in my shop. And most small businesses in the Bay Area can tell you how difficult it is to look for employees. And most of us have to depend on illegal immigrants, who are hardworking and very reliable workers, to keep our businesses running.

    With a 4.6% unemployment rate, how much more Trump can do? Since the economy is better than it was in the Great Recession and Obama had created 14 million jobs, how could Trump been able to lie to win the presidency? I believe it reflects the mood of the nation, even if Trump’s lies and allegations aren’t fully supported by data. I believe there are three key reasons why everyone from Main Street to Wall Street isn’t cheering 4.6% unemployment:

    (1) Fewer adults are working: Only 62.7% of adult Americans are working. The so-called Labor Force Participation rate hasn’t been this low since the late 1970s. The rate measures how many people over age 16 are working or actively seeking work. Back in the ’70s, it was low because fewer women worked outside the home. That’s not the story today. There are three factors driving the decrease in workers. The first is that a huge part of the adult population, Baby Boomers, are retiring. That’s expected and healthy. It explains about half of the decline in the workforce. The second is more young people are going to college and graduate school. They are studying more, which should be a positive for the nation. But the third one is alarming: some people have just given up on finding work. It’s hard to quantify how many people fall into this dropout category, but it’s large enough to matter. Politicians like Trump talk about it in stump speeches. The Wall Street Journal estimates that about 2.6 million of the roughly 92 million American adults who don’t work want a job but aren’t looking for one.

    (2) Long-term unemployment is still high: Another reason why the jobs picture still looks gloomy is that an unusually high number of people can’t find jobs even though they have been looking for a long time. About 2.1 million Americans have been unable to get a job for over half a year. The government calls these people the “long-term unemployed.” During the worst of the Great Recession, 6.8 million people were long-term unemployed. So there’s been improvement, but there are still roughly double the number of long-term unemployed than in normal times. There’s still a lack of job security.

    (3) Wage growth is anemic: The last big issue is that wages aren’t going up for many Americans.
    The typical take home pay (often called “median income” by the Census Bureau) is about the same today as it was 20 years ago, once you adjust for inflation. In other words, middle class families aren’t really getting ahead. They’re just getting by.
    To be fair, this was a problem even before the Great Recession came along, but experts keep predicting wages will go up and it’s not happening.
    The reality is wage growth is only 2.5% a year. Normally when unemployment is this low, wage growth should be humming along at about 4% a year. It’s a very different environment than it used to be for workers.

    And Trump is talking about bringing back jobs from China and deporting all the illegal Latino? For heaven sake, the Latino are doing those hard labor jobs that lazy white supremacists do not want to do. Latino build and renovate our homes, picking our agriculture products to put food on our table. Those jobs he says bringing back from China have long left China or lost through automation. No wonder he says he loves “uneducated people”.

    • Excellent writeup, La Moy.

      Over here in Malusia, we have the same problem, albeit most of our locally educated ‘grads’ (esp. from the Ketuanan only unis) are unemployable because of their attitude, aptitude or else, sheer apathy. They avoid dirty, dangerous and dull jobs which they consider demeaning (4 D’s) like plague. Their sense of entitlement is both parental and institutional. Lazy? That’s debatable.

      It’s often the ‘Who you know, not what you know conundrum’, world over. So all these Unemployables do is junk up the social media with obscene and mindless red-neck drivel. Quite ape-like, methinks.

      Too much emphasis on Tertiary Education often breeds non-human primates lacking not only basic technical skills but also devolved soft skills. We need more technicians, not commercial or humanities grads who can’t distinguish the rear end of an elephant from a pig. These prefer to hang out in arboreal locales, dreaming of Dedak from any politico.

      Germany and Scandinavian countries are those few who have succeeded in vocational training. Indonesia and our close neighbors prefer the ‘Trial and Error’ method, but they have a different concept of ‘demeaning’. Fall and die.

      Btw, Anyone up for a job in Wagga-Wagga, Oz, as a Sanitation Engineer? Salary’s AUD 85k pa for shoveling cow dung. I urge Loose-brain to apply, but only if he has a minimum of B.Eng Hons (Mech) and PR status. Soft skills, not required as you only talk to cattle. He may then shovel turds at his nemesis..

    • Yes LaMoy the jobs are there but the whites won’t take it. They’d rather be unemployed than working in a lower paid job.

  4. Quote:- “Any complaints…anyone…?”

    Najib has negotiated huge investments from China which will see Tun Razak Exchange, Bandar Malaysia being built; the much awaited MRT is up and running; the World is made aware of the plight of the Rohingya; a few top civil servants have been arrested for massive departmental corruption, (more to come?); Hudud which is close to the spiritual hearts of many Malaysian Muslims is now before Parliament as an UMNO / BN initiative; the falling Ringgit makes our exports cheaper and therefore more competitive; the IGP is still investigating 1MDB.

    Any complaints…anyone…?”

  5. For Mr. Krugman and people who support his sentiment about election that was 2 month ago, being kind and graceful will not make these people to confront the reality of loss. What I think we need is making a cruel joke on the like of Mr. Krugman; how about this for a laugh:

    I fell off my chair and laughed uncontrollably when I watched it the first time. I thought I should keep it private for not hurting people like Mr. Krugman. Now I change my mind.

  6. “How will a man who evidently can’t handle even the smallest blow to his ego deal with it?” Krugman.

    Evidently? Trump would have appointed Mitt Romney to the Secretary of State had others including his advisers not advised against it strongly. Mitt Romney during the campaign had accused Trump the worst type of con artist possible.


    The more one reads Krugman’s writing, the stupider one becomes.

  7. It sounds like Krugman think Trump will act like our Najib eventually. Really ironic given how Najib is trying to mimick Obama hip styles with Trump substance – or worst.

  8. Thanks for your detailed comments, Mr LaMoy.

    I’m wondering if new kinds of job arrangements are a major reason for
    people’s dissatisfaction i.e. in the U.S. academic world, there are the tenured
    positions and then there are the legions of contract lecturers who are paid for EACH course they teach.

    In the non-academic world, there are the McJobs such as part-time jobs, short contract jobs, (essentially permanent) contract jobs with reduced or few benefits i.e. no paid holidays & no health insurance provided by the employer, on-call and uncertain jobs with temp agencies, de-unionised jobs which pay much less than the formerly unionised jobs.

    • Yes, Dr. Phua:
      You are one of the few in this blog who know America. I have not mentioned the underemployed, mostly fall into the category you mentioned working for the temp, or on contract basis.

      You know well about the academic world. Tenured positions in the American colleges or universities need a PhD degree, starting as an assistant professor, to associate professor, and then to full professorship. Contract lecturers need at least a master degree, but they are usually the practitioners with several years of full-time job experiences in their field of studies, teaching an evening class moonlighting.

      But you know Trump is talking mostly of blue-collar jobs, where 85% have been lost to automation. Machines and robots are taking over human labor in the manufacturing industry.

      When he say “make America great again”, you know he is talking about “make America white again”. Make America great again implies America is no longer great but there was a time when America was great.

      It is actually Trump’s Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon who came up with this mantra. When pressed by the TV reporters what time period they were referring to when America was great. They both described a desire to return America to the 1930’s till 1950’s. It’s basically referring to a time before Civil Rights Movement when the world revolved around the wishes of white people, especially white men.

    • When he say “make America great again”, you know he is talking about “make America white again”. Make America great again implies America is no longer great but there was a time when America was great.

      Is the above practice not commonly used by many countries’ leaders for their own political ambitions? The Europeans went to many parts of the world and conducted genocide on locals who were almost wiped out [with only being retained by some intelligentsia and commercial minded for commercial purposes in the name of tourism and retaining the heritage].
      Later some became liberal and allowed other minorities to be participants in the government/commercial positions but when they performed better the non-liberals went against the liberals to reduce the importance of the minorities.

      The ‘refugees’ may also be another form of takeover of countries which had earlier colonized their home lands..

  9. Phua,
    The main thing is that people especially the white folks in America just like the melayus in Malaysia yearning for the good old days. Good old days will never come back.
    Like what John oliver had said this man is abnormall. It would be stupid to normalise his action. Last time, that leads to the creation of Nazi Germany

    • Looes, looes, looes,
      See how sensibly you can write when you’re not taunting your angmo dingo? Ha, ha, ha.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.