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Moody's analyst defends against Trump criticism

Moody's Analytics' chief economist stands behind the company's view that Hillary Clinton's economic plan is better than Donald Trump's.

"Read the research. The methodology, the assumptions, the results are all very transparent and laid out," Mark Zandi told CNBC on Friday. Zandi noted that he's a registered Democrat but said the documents are designed for people to make their own judgments.

Zandi and his firm caught some heat from the Trump camp Thursday when the Republican presidential candidate called Moody's praise of Clinton's economic plan "ridiculous" during a phone interview on "Squawk on the Street."

"I assume they're all Democrats because that's a ridiculous statement," Trump responded after Moody's Analytics said his plan would put the U.S. economy into another recession.

"The upshot of our analysis is that Secretary Clinton's economic policies when taken together will result in a stronger U.S. economy under almost any scenario," Moody's report on Hillary Clinton said. The report noted that the United States' debt load under Clinton's plan would be no different than under current law.

Moody's Trump report said that the presidential candidate's tax and spending proposals would result in "very large deficits and a much higher debt load."

"A future Congress may be able to rein in this profligacy, but it will not be easy, as there is a gulf between what he says he wants on taxes and spending and what it will take to make the budget arithmetic work," the Trump analysis said.

The Moody's report on Trump published weeks ago and does not reflect any changes that Trump has made to his economic plan, Zandi said. "At this point, we don't have enough information. There's not enough granularity to what he's said to be able to quantify it," he said, noting that Moody's would update its analysis if Trump provided more details on his plans.

Trump and Clinton both focused on infrastructure spending in their respective economic plans. Clinton announced a $275 billion infrastructure spending plan in December that would be funded through taxes on the wealthy. Trump said he would want to spend more than twice as much for his plan by using an infrastructure fund supported by government bonds.

That focus impressed Moody's. "I don't think we can afford not to invest in infrastructure," Zandi said. "Both candidates have talked about an infrastructure bank and I think that's a very attractive way of doing it."

He said Clinton's proposal is bolder and calls for continuing many of President Obama's policies.

"She lays out some ways for doing that through higher tax revenue and raising tax rates on very high-income households," Zandi said. "Not doing it would be a huge error, particularly in the political context."