The Kudlow Inversion
Trump’s key advisor on the economy, the coronavirus, and regulation, with a gift for getting everything wrong.
“Only the best people,” Trump said. Let’s talk about his chief economic advisor, Larry Kudlow. Kudlow seems to live in an inverted, upside-down world. He somehow manages to be wrong about everything — wrong about the economy, wrong about deregulation, wrong about climate change, wrong about the coronavirus. A full sweep, in other words.
It’s not easy to achieve that level of consistency. Trump must have had to look far and wide to find Kudlow. Just look at this list of Kudlovian missteps:
Economic predictions. With Kevin Hassett’s departure, Kudlow is virtually the only economic advisor Trump has left. On the economy, supposedly Kudlow’s forte, he ‘s been a complete bust. Before the 2008 financial crisis, he denied there was a housing bubble just before it collapsed, dragging the whole economy into recession. He then insisted that during the biggest recession in decades an inflationary bubble was on the horizon. He advised Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to slash taxes and regulations, predicting a boom. The plan worked so badly that Kansas voters brought in a Democratic replacement to fix the damage.
Deregulation. Kudlow credited Trump’s regulatory rollbacks with jumpstarting the economy in 2017. No mention of the harm to consumers or the environment, or the fact that the rollbacks wouldn’t pass an honest cost-benefit analysis.
Climate change. As usual, Kudlow has everything backwards. Kudlow isn’t a complete climate denier. But he thinks the scientific consensus reflected in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is way too alarmist, and he’s not convinced how much of a role human activity plays in causing climate change. He also said the climate models have been wrong for twenty years. All quite contrary to what the experts in the field say. And that brings us to . . .
COVID-19. In February, Kudlow said the coronavirus was contained “pretty much airtight.” In June, he said states were only dealing with a few “hot spots” and there was no real resurgence. At that point, numbers were shooting up in places like Florida and Texas. A few days later, he said: “we’re going to have hot spots. No question. We have it now. . . .We just have to live with that.”
On topic after topic, Kudlow manages to get everything wrong. He seems to be a reliable source of information only in the sense of being reliably off-base. In some settings, that would be fatal to career success. His gift is that his errors are all shared with his boss.