U.S. Economic Growth At 4.1 Percent For 2nd Quarter

Jul 27, 2018
Originally published on July 27, 2018 11:08 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

GDP numbers are out this morning. And they are good news for the Trump administration. President Trump is speaking at this moment outside the White House, touting the success, he claims, of his economic policies. Let's listen in.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: At 9.4 percent - so that's a very tremendous increase. There hasn't been an increase like that in many, many years - decades. And I think the most important thing - and Larry Kudlow just confirmed to me, along with Kevin Hassett - that these numbers are very, very sustainable. This isn't a one-time shot. I happen to think we're going to do extraordinarily well in our next report next quarter.

MARTIN: The president there touting the new GDP numbers - 4.1 percent growth in the second quarter. Those are the numbers that the president says are indeed sustainable. That is the real question. I'm joined now by White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe, who is monitoring these events. Ayesha, the president clearly feeling pretty good, though, about these numbers.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: He's feeling great about these numbers. And this is what he - the White House has promised, that this economy is going to be booming in a way that it hasn't in years and that they are delivering on that promise right now and that the - basically, that before the economy was stagnant and that now they are getting to a place where things are going to be moving along and that people - and that the economy is going to grow at a much more rapid clip.

MARTIN: NPR business reporter Chris Arnold is also with us right now. Chris, what's to account for the growth? I mean, it is extraordinary. We have to give the president credit here.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Well, therein lies sort of the answer to the question about whether this will be sustained. I mean, certainly, part of this was the tax cut - a lot of people going out there, spending on vacations and cars and all kinds of stuff. The problem with that is that you get a big bump from that when people first get this big bump in their paycheck from the tax cut. And then, that kind of, you know, fades in the future. And there were other stuff - there was other stuff like that, too. We were just talking about, you know, soybean sales. It was a sort of freakish thing that happened with the tariffs where China bought, like, massive amounts of soybeans, and that skewed the numbers. So there was just a lot going on in this report that led to these big numbers, but that all economists that I talked to say, look; no, this is not going to continue at 4 percent, maybe 2 1/2 next quarter. We'll see. But this is not some bold, new era of growth.

MARTIN: The president in his remarks today reinforcing a message he has put out for many months that he views America as getting ripped off on trade, talking about the deficit. We've got a clip here. Let's listen.

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TRUMP: The trade deficit - very dear to my heart because we've been ripped off by the world - has dropped by more than $50 billion.

MARTIN: Ayesha, this is a repeated refrain from President Trump.

RASCOE: This is a repeated refrain. And I think these numbers came at a good time for him because he's been kind of feeling some of the effects of him instituting these tariffs and that the farmers and other people have kind of been feeling that pain. So to get these numbers, what he's trying to argue is that, look; even though things may have looked a little shaky with the farmers, the GDP is actually growing. And once I get these deals together, oh, we're going to be off to the races. It's going to go much faster. And so he's making the argument that what he's doing right now is working.

MARTIN: He's saying there may be some short-term pain. Stick with me. He promises some long-term gain. NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe; we're also joined by NPR business correspondent Chris Arnold. We are unpacking the latest GDP numbers - 4.1 percent growth in the second quarter. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.