Economist Mark Zandi has a new take about the state of the economy under Donald Trump, believing that both the president's supporters and opponents have it wrong.
During the presidential campaign, Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, warned that a Trump presidency would cause a "lengthy recession." In addition to the recession, Zandi and his team figured that the Republican's policies would result in 3.5 million fewer jobs and an unemployment rate that would zoom to 7 percent.
That opinion, however, was based on the premise that all of Trump's proposals on the campaign trail would come to fruition — something that hasn't happened.
In a new analysis issued Tuesday, Zandi's evaluation is hardly a robust assessment of potential growth, but the prognosis for the economy doesn't match up to the dire election-season scenario.
"The reality regarding the economy's performance is not nearly as good as Trump supporters believe nor as bad as claimed by Trump detractors," he wrote. "Nothing much has changed for the economy since the election. It is expanding at the same pace as it has throughout its nearly
eight-year expansion — real GDP growth of 2 percent and job growth of about 200,000 per month."
Indeed, there is plenty of evidence both to support and rebut each side's respective position.
On the pro-Trump side, the stock market has been hovering around record highs, confidence is strong across the board and job creation got off to a quick start in January and February. His detractors can point to a weak March jobs number, hard data that doesn't match up to the high confidence levels and continued weakness in consumer spending.
Many economists, though, continue to believe that growth will accelerate. In fact, Fitch Ratings, one of the main competitors for Moody's, itself said last week that projections it made just a month or so ago for the U.S. economy under Trump were too dire.
In an interview, Zandi said gridlock is actually benefiting the economy's prospects, at least compared to what things looked like during the campaign.
"There are a lot of places where this could go off the rails," he said, mentioning a hard line on immigration or a currency war specifically. "At the moment it feels like it's less of a threat than it was back in the campaign."