Editorial of the “World”. Donald Trump pretends to be delighted with the economic rebound in the United States: in September, the world’s largest economy had recreated 11.4 million jobs, half of the 22 million destroyed in March-April, when the Covid crisis broke out -19. In reality, this figure is a disaster for the incumbent president: never has the unemployment rate (7.9%) been so high on the eve of a US presidential election since World War II. Donald Trump has lost one of his strongest campaign arguments, his economic record.
In 2019, at the end of its third year in office, the United States was at its best, as evidenced by little disputed statistics: unemployment at the lowest in fifty years, including for African Americans; the lowest absolute poverty rate since the 1960s; record median income and growth above that of Europe.
All this was done at the cost of a budget deficit deemed unsustainable at the time, close to 5% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), and an accommodating monetary policy. But the grievance against this policy of overheating was politically inaudible. Trump could win it.
A disastrous choice
This story was shattered with the Covid crisis. Unlike what often happened in previous crises, the US government did not procrastinate. As early as March, the US central bank flooded the economy with liquidity, averting bankruptcy, while Democrats and Republicans in Congress distributed the money lavishly, in agreement with Donald Trump. Too much doubt, we will see in the coming months that the windfall effects were considerable. But the social result was achieved: until August, the income of Americans was preserved and the human tragedies contained.
Except that halfway remains to be done, and nothing is going as planned. The Covid-19 crisis has continued, accentuated by the desire of Donald Trump and the Republicans to reopen the economy by force. It was possible to contain the disease, as the New York example shows. Politically, Mr. Trump has made the opposite choice, which is proving to be disastrous from a health standpoint and economically counterproductive. As China picks up again, the second economic wave is shaping up, with massive layoffs in tourism and air transport, permanent closures of small businesses, the bankruptcy of local communities, which will lead to the closure of social services and businesses. ‘schools.
For that, we need a new plan to help the economy. Donald Trump wanted to bypass Congress, without real success, because he does not have the power. Republicans and Democrats are unable to get along, with Republicans refusing to bail out the states and cities most affected on the pretext that they are Democrats. This can be explained within a month of an election in a hateful climate, but not very defensible.
This crisis is hitting the weak, as another part of America, the winning part, reaping the dividends of the digital revolution. Make no mistake: America 2.0 – that of Amazon, Zoom, Netflix, telemedicine… – is doing wonderfully, doped by Covid-19, more powerful and richer than ever, thanks to the surge of Wall Street. Its contribution seems inevitable. But if Donald Trump loses the presidential election, he is not the one who will.