If all of the economic policies presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has trumpeted on the campaign trail were to become reality, the U.S. economy would plunge back into recession, losing millions of jobs, according to a new analysis from Moody’s Analytics.
The heart of Trump’s economic proposals come down to tax, trade, and immigration policy. He’s put forward a tax package that experts have found would cost $9.5 trillion and hand nearly all of the benefits to the wealthiest. He’s promised to levy huge tariffs on imports from countries like China and Mexico and he’s railed against trade deals. And he says he’ll deport 11 million undocumented immigrants while building a wall along the Mexican border.
If all of that were to happen just how Trump proposes it, Moody’s analysis finds that the American economy would dip into a recession beginning in 2018 that would last through 2020 — longer than the Great Recession. It estimates there would be 3.5 million fewer jobs and the unemployment rate would rise to a peak of 7.4 percent, as opposed to the current rate of 4.7.
And while Trump has promised to generate economic growth of as much as 6 percent or more a year, Moody’s forecasts that GDP will fall by close to 2.4 percent over that recessionary period. In fact, annual GDP growth would only average 1.4 percent between 2016 and 2026, two years after Trump’s presidency would end if he were given two terms, and in some years would be negative.
It also finds that despite Trump saying he wants American workers to earn more money, the average American family’s income will stagnate under his watch. Meanwhile, housing values and the stock market will decline.
The Moody’s analysis relies on some assumptions that give Trump the benefit of the doubt. He has said he doesn’t want to change spending on entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. But Moody’s assumes he would cover the cost of his tax plan with $1.5 trillion in cuts of nondefense government programs with the rest taken care of through expanding the federal deficit, because doing it entirely through cuts to the government — which would require “the elimination of federal agencies, mass layoffs, and the curtailment of many public services” — is “not likely.” But there is no way to know for sure since Trump hasn’t specified. Trump has promised to remove all undocumented people in two years, but Moody’s argues that’s not feasible and gives him eight. It assumes that he won’t change any preexisting trade deals even though he has promised to “rip up” a number of them.
On the other hand, it may overstate the damage elsewhere. The biggest harm the analysis finds is from the increasing federal debt and large budget deficits that would result from his tax and spending plans. The deficit would grow to nearly $1 trillion by 2020 on a static basis. Moody’s argues that eventually higher interest rates caused by higher deficits would kick in, although it may depend on timing — larger government deficits can be beneficial in a recession. But it also notes that because the deficits are paying for tax cuts for the wealthy, and the wealthy don’t spend their extra income as much as lower income people, there will be a lot less in economic benefit from them anyway.
All in all, his tax plan will cost a lot of money without much payoff, deporting all undocumented immigrants will shrink the labor force and therefore the economy, imposing big tariffs will drive up consumer prices, and Moody’s sees little benefit for domestic industries and jobs.
The analysis assumes Trump gets to implement all of his promises, which would require full cooperation from Congress. That’s unlikely. Under assumptions Moody’s makes to account for compromises that might be made to win legislative support, the country would avoid a recession. But it still warns that “growth comes to a near standstill early in Mr. Trump’s term” under this scenario and 2.8 million jobs would disappear in his first term.