Donald Trump couldn’t have asked for better timing for a #MAGA victory lap. With his schedule full of midterm-campaign rallies, the president has extolled his record on the economy as a reason for voters to back Republicans and stay the course. The World Economic Forum agrees, vaulting the US to its top spot among competitive economies for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis and Great Recession.
That does seem pretty, um … great:
The U.S. is back on top as the most competitive country in the world, regaining the No. 1 spot for the first time since 2008 in an index produced by the World Economic Forum, which said the country could still do better on social issues.
America climbed one place in the rankings of 140 countries, with the top five rounded out by Singapore, Germany, Switzerland and Japan. All five countries’ scores rose from 2017, with the U.S. notching the second-biggest gain after Japan’s.
The top spot hasn’t gone to the U.S. since the financial crisis stalled output and triggered a global economic slowdown.
“Economic recovery is well underway, with the global economy projected to grow almost 4% in 2018 and 2019,” said the report, published Tuesday by the organization that produces the Davos conference on global politics and economics.
Trump has long argued that he pulled the US out of the economic doldrums in which Barack Obama arguably left it with the least-dynamic recovery of the post-World War II period. Critics argue that Trump is simply riding the same economic recovery wave that Obama left. This report, however, notes that the US had the biggest improvement in competitiveness over the past year of the nations it rates, improving almost twice as much as second-place Singapore. If nothing else, Trump can claim credit for his policies amplifying growth and competitiveness with those results.
That may just serve as confirmation for Americans, who increasingly perceive that better days have arrives. A CNBC poll published Monday indicates that a blue wave may have stalled in large part because of growing confidence in the economy. In fact, economic confidence hit an 11-year high — a big plus for Trump and Republicans:
Indeed, the poll found that 48 percent of the public is optimistic about the current economy and optimistic it will get better, the highest level in the poll’s 11-year history and more than double the 20 percent registered in the December 2016 survey. The poll, conducted Oct. 4th through the 7th, shows 83 percent of Republicans are optimistic but also 22 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of Independent voters. …
Still, Jay Campbell, the Democratic pollster for the survey and a partner with Hart Research Associates, is skeptical of a wave for the Democrats, saying the six-point advantage is “not enough to suggest this is going to be a massive wave election a la 2010.” Campbell did add that the survey found a large 17 percent of undecided voters who will be critical to the outcome. …
Working in the Republicans’ favor is not only record-high optimism about the economy but also about the stock market and near-record high optimism about wage growth. American expect their wages to grow an average of 5.1 percent in the next year, up from 4.7 percent in the June survey and the highest since 2008. A record-high 51 percent of the public say now is a good time to invest in stocks, with a record-low 25 percent saying it’s a bad time.
The CNBC poll also shows a generic congressional ballot of D+6, roughly the same as its sample split, they note. That’s not far off from the current RCP average of 7.6%, which reflects two polls showing D+11 results. That’s not usually a big enough lead for a wave election, and might be low enough to predict a push in the election. If economic confidence is this high — and if Republican voters have become more motivated out of anger over the Kavanaugh hearings — then CNBC may be correct about a stall in the blue wave. That doesn’t mean Democrats can’t take the majority; they only need 23 seats to flip, and the court-ordered redistricting in Pennsylvania gives them a 5- or 6-seat head start on it. But it does make it a little more questionable, barring any other developments. And this gives Trump lots of ammunition for the campaign trail on pocketbook issues.