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EDITORIAL: Economy doing nicely in Donald Trump’s first 200 days

Given the volatile North Korea situation and the internal turmoil at the White House, the Trump administration can use all the good news it can get. So as President Donald Trump moves past his 200th day in office, it’s worth noting that economy appears to be in pretty good shape.

About seven months into the Trump presidency, CNNMoney reports, the unemployment rate is 4.3 percent, a 16-year low. And while wage growth lags somewhat, American employers have added more than 1 million jobs since Mr. Trump took office.

In addition, housing prices continue to surge, although not nearly at the rate prior to the 2007 crash. The average price for an existing home in June stood at a record $263,800, which is 6.5 percent higher than a year ago. June was the 64th straight month of gains (compared with a year earlier). Despite a recent rate interest hike by the Fed, mortgages are still highly affordable, with the average 30-year rate dropping to 3.93 percent from 4.02 percent three months ago.

Consumers are expressing more confidence. According to the Fed, Americans’ debt for credit cards, cars and other items is up $3.766 trillion since the end of last year. Businesses are also borrowing more, CNNMoney notes, reversing the trend of just a few months ago.

Trade is also growing. While trade deficits shouldn’t necessarily be an issue, the overall trade deficit is the lowest it’s been since before the election. Exports to Canada and Mexico rose in June, and fracking helped the U.S. export more crude oil than it imported in June.

The growth of the stock market has perhaps been the biggest win for Mr. Trump, although trying to explain the behavior of Wall Street is fool’s gold. But while the market boomed under Barack Obama, it is soaring under this president — contrary to the doomsday predictions of a market collapse upon his election. The Dow, which is up 12 percent this year, continues to see record high stock prices. The Nasdaq is up 20 percent, and profits for companies in the S&P 500 have grown by more than 10 percent since last year.

On the down side, consumer spending could look better. CNNMoney reports that retail sales were down 0.2 percent in June, and consumer spending rose just 0.1 percent that month and 2.8 percent over the past year. That’s lower than many analysts believe is enough to move the needle. While Americans are borrowing more money, they’re spending less of it on smaller items.

Mr. Trump will never win over the vocal leftist activists that seek to undermine his presidency. But if the economy continues to perform at a reasonable level, it might help heal some of nation’s divisions.

 

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