Trump's Econ Loon Predicts 'Human Capital Stock' Will Gladly Sacrifice Its Health For His Glorious Economy

economics

Good Morning, Human Capital Stock! You all ready to get out there and sacrifice yourself for the good of the economy? According to senior White House economics advisor Kevin Hassett, you've all refreshed yourself with a Memorial Day dunk in the gonorrhea stew at the Lake of the Ozarks and are raring to rip off your mask and get back to the mall.

Were you under an impression that you were an actual human being with valuable skills to trade in a 21st century labor market? LOL, nope! You're just human capital stock, to be used up until you break and get tossed out with the garbage. So get your lazy ass back on the production line and quit yer whinin' about disease, ya soulless cog in the essential capitalist machine!


The fact that Hassett gave the interview from the White House, a building literally constructed by enslaved human capital stock, is really just the icing on the rancid shit sandwich. But Kevin Hassett's job is to generate nonsensically rosy projections to justify Trump's lunatic economic policy — those tax cuts will pay for themselves! — then grin his way through media hits insisting that actually many economists agree that two plus two is five. So he dutifully plastered on that maniacal smile to assure CNN's Dana Bash that economic recovery is just around the corner.

"Well, I think that what we're going to see is more bad data, because the data tend to be in the rear-view mirror," he said on Sunday morning's "State of the Union." Which was, no doubt, a great comfort to all those bad data points spending hours on end trying to access unemployment benefits.

"But if you look at things like employment and small businesses, or the percentage of businesses that are open, or even the credit card data, which we get a peek at, then you can see that things pretty much inflected in early May," Hassett continued. "And so my expectation is that, since there are still initial claims for unemployment insurance in May, that the unemployment rate will be higher in June than in May, but then, after that, it should start to trend down."

It's getting worse, which is how you know it's just about to get better. That is just science!

Of course, we are talking about a guy so singlemindedly dedicated to being wrong about everything that he predicted American coronavirus deaths would be at zero by May 15. In 1999, just before the Dot Com bubble burst, Hassett wrote a book called Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting from the Coming Rise in the Stock Market. He actually went on television during the government shutdown and claimed that government workers going unpaid during the 2019 shutdown over funding for Trump's stupid wall were "better off." But this time, you can definitely take Hassett's word for it!

Asked about Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell's warning that America will simply not return to "normal" until a vaccine is widely available, Hassett predicted, "What's going to happen, in all likelihood, is that you're going to see the second quarter drop a lot, and the third quarter skyrocket. And then the question is that, when you skyrocket, do you get back to where you were when you started? And the CBO doesn't quite think so. And I think that that second part of it not quite getting back to where you started is the thing that Jay Powell, Chairman Powell, is talking about."

To be clear, where we started was 3.5 percent unemployment in February. Hassett himself concedes that the official tally is probably wrong, and we're probably looking at a real number close to 20 percent today. Chairman Powell is predicting that the economy might not recover fully until the end of 2021, which is not good for a president seeking reelection. Luckily Trump has Hassett to pretend that the dispute is just a minor quibble among economists whether the third quarter will be stupendous, or just amazing.

After all, our human capital stock is intact and raring to get back to the office!

But I think that all the signs of economic recovery are going to be raging everywhere. And the only thing we're going to really be debating, as economists, is, are we going to get back to where we were, or is it going to be kind of a long haul to get there?

I have two very close friends, both conservatives, both Harvard professors, and one of them thinks it's going to take many, many years, and the other one thinks that it is going to happen virtually overnight.

And that other friend, Robert Barro, has said that he thinks it looks a little bit like, at the end of World War II, the countries that didn't have their capital stocks destroyed by the war, that, when the war ended, they pretty much got their economies going at a rate of 40 or 50 percent a year.

And while he was cautioned about the analogy — and it was just in a private e-mail — I think that Professor Barro's view that we don't have — our capital stock hasn't been destroyed, our human capital stock is ready to get back to work, and so that there are lots of reasons to believe that we can get going way faster than we have in previous crises.

And perhaps Hassett is right. Offensive phrasing and data fudging aside, he's correct that the American labor pool and brick and mortar infrastructure is the same today as it was four months ago. But his analysis conveniently elides the fact that millions of employer-employee ties have been severed, requiring logistically expensive onboarding to rehire them. And it disregards the reality that, in the large swaths of the country where most people live, it will be a long time before most of us feel comfortable going to the movies or a concert or a business convention. How many small businesses can just eat an entire quarter's profit and stay open? How many thousands of nail salons and diners and Pilates studios are going to close because Donald Trump decided that preparing for a pandemic would spook the stock market, placing the US recovery miles behind most of the developed world?

God willing, Hassett is right that we're well on our way to getting back to normal. Although it sure doesn't look like it from where we're sitting. But don't take our word for it — we're just brainless human capital stock.

[CNN Transcript]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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