The analysis shows that boom-like growth requires an economy firing on all cylinders. Consumer spending, which accounts for 65 percent of growth, needs to sport annual gains of 3.5 percent or better. But that's not enough.
Productivity has to surge. It has averaged just over 1 percent annual gains since 2010. It averages 2.7 percent during the boom years and 2 percent since 1990. Population usually grows about 1 percent, compared with the 0.7 percent of the current expansion.
Business spending and exports play a vital role in getting the best growth — two areas where Trump has promised to focus. But so do government spending and imports, places some economists fear Trump's policies could fall short.
When the economy booms, business investment grows on average 9 percent a year, or more than double its long-run average. Currently, total private investment is rising about 1.5 percentage points below the average growth for the boom years.
"The biggest thing you need is more business investment, that's the piece that's been pretty lackluster," said economist Stephen Stanley of Amherst Pierpont. "A good tax reform program and regulatory relief done well and you could see significant improvement on the supply side."
And the data suggest Trump is right that exports could use a boost. Export growth is now about normal compared to the long run average of 5 percent annual gains, but it usually ratchets up above 7 percent during the boom years.
Where Trump could be wrong is imports and government spending. Imports surge during the boom years, often rising by double digits in the best years of growth. There's no way of telling if this a reason for the boom, or the result of it. But the last two times growth surged above 3 percent — in 2004 and 2005 — the trade deficit surged as imports rose more than exports. It could be that imports surged to satisfy booming consumer demand. Or it could that companies bought goods and commodities overseas and sold them more profitably in the United States. This underscores a debate among economists about just how harmful the trade deficit really is.
While Trump has portrayed the trade deficit as a negative for the economy, this analysis suggests otherwise. It shows imports rise with economic growth and they rise even more when the economy booms. So Trump could hurt his own efforts to boost growth by slapping tariffs on goods and curtailing import growth.
Federal government investment is trickier. It is all over the map during the boom years, but it is never negative. In general, government spending has grown about 1 percent a year since 1990 and averaged 1.5 percent growth during the boom years.