Larry Kudlow is the pure distilled essence of a Trump appointment, the type specimen of the breed, and the perfect expression of the state of Republican “thinking” on not just economics, but any matter in which actual knowledge and a respect for empiricism might help.
Via Wikipedia, we find he is barely educated, at best, in the fields in which he now works:
Kudlow graduated from University of Rochester in Rochester, New York with a degree in history in 1969. Known as “Kuddles” to friends, he was a star on the tennis team and a member of the left-wing Students for a Democratic Society at Rochester.
In 1971, Kudlow attended Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, where he studied politics and economics. He left before completing his master’s degree.
I’ll admit that Kuddles is kinda cute, but an unfinished masters degree in a policy school is not one you’d usually associate with economics acumen.
He went on to a stellar business career, managing to get fired repeatedly for substance abuse on the job, including a claimed $10,000/month cocaine habit that got him canned from Bear Stearns in 1994. (It’s interesting to note that a frantic effort is underway today to diminish such inconvenient truths on Kudlow’s Wikipedia page.)
Fortunately for Kuddles, he cleans up well, dresses nicely, and can tok gud. So he was able to revive his career as a TV gasbag, with a series of appearances and then shows on CNBC, the network that figured out the markets could be covered like sports teams.
Unfortunately — for the rest of us, if not for the ever-failing-up Kudlow — he’s been wrong about almost every key economic call since Methuselah was in diapers. He is a Laffer disciple, a supply-sider whose faith that there is no tax that is too low, no plutocrat whose needs must not be served, is impervious to any test of reality.
In 1993, when Bill Clinton proposed an increase in the top tax rate from 31 percent to 39.6 percent, Kudlow wrote, “There is no question that President Clinton’s across-the-board tax increases … will throw a wet blanket over the recovery and depress the economy’s long-run potential to grow.” This was wrong. Instead, a boom ensued. Rather than question his analysis, Kudlow switched to crediting the results to the great tax-cutter, Ronald Reagan. “The politician most responsible for laying the groundwork for this prosperous era is not Bill Clinton, but Ronald Reagan,” he argued in February, 2000.
Kudlow firmly denied that the United States would enter a recession in 2007, or that it was in the midst of a recession in early to mid-2008. In December 2007, he wrote: “The recession debate is over. It’s not gonna happen. Time to move on. At a bare minimum, we are looking at Goldilocks 2.0. (And that’s a minimum). The Bush boom is alive and well. It’s finishing up its sixth splendid year with many more years to come”. In May 2008 he wrote: “President George W. Bush may turn out to be the top economic forecaster in the country” in his “‘R’ is for ‘Right'”.
When Obama took office, Kudlow was detecting an “inflationary bubble.” That was wrong. He warned in 2009 that the administration “is waging war on investors. He’s waging war against businesses. He’s waging war against bondholders. These are very bad things.” That was also wrong, and when the recovery proceeded, by 2011, he credited the Bush tax cuts for the recovery. (Kudlow, April 2011: “March unemployment rate drop proof lower taxes work.”) By 2012, Kudlow found new grounds to test out his theories: Kansas, where he advisedRepublican governor Sam Brownback to implement a sweeping tax-cut plan that would produce faster growth. This was wrong. Alas, Brownback’s program has proven a comprehensive failure, falling short of all its promises and leaving the state in fiscal turmoil.
The reviews are coming in. Via the BBC:
David Stockman, Mr Kudlow’s former boss during the Reagan administration, told the Washington Post in 2016 that Mr Kudlow’s prediction that tax cuts would lead to growth was “dead wrong”. Instead, he said the cuts led to budget deficits.
More recently, he has warned that Mr Kudlow would not be able to rein in the president.
“As much as I love him … Larry’s voice is exactly the wrong voice that Donald Trump ought to be hearing as we go forward,” he told CNBC.
Liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has been sharply critical, noting that Mr Kudlow missed signs of the housing bubble and recession.
“At least he’s reliable — that is, he’s reliably wrong about everything,” Mr Krugman tweeted.
Indeed in December 2007 – just as the recession was beginning – Mr Kudlow wrote in the National Review: “There’s no recession coming. The pessimistas were wrong. It’s not going to happen.”
It is interesting that Kudlow himself doesn’t seem to disagree with his predecessor on the issue that got Cohn out. From a quick take bylined by him, Laffer and Stephen Moore (another stellar, always-wrong econ public intellectual) here he is on Trump’s tariff announcement:
Tariffs are really tax hikes. Since so many of the things American consumers buy today are made of steel or aluminum, a 25 percent tariff on these commodities may get passed on to consumers at the cash register. This is a regressive tax on low-income families.
I wonder how that squares with the new job. ETA: I know how it squares. It’s already been forgotten. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.
But that’s just SOP in the circles in which Kudlow travels: intellectual rigor doesn’t actually matter. He’s under no obligation to be consistent in any of his pronouncements, and he certainly doesn’t have to be right about anything as long as he provides cover for the true Republican (n.b.: not just Trumpian) policy goal: the transfer of more and more of our society’s wealth to those who are already wealthy — and hence, in the GOP/Rand/Sociopath view of the world, those who are virtuous enough to deserve such riches.
For all of you who’ve wondered why the US can’t be more like Kansas — we may now we get to find out.
Kudlow is an absolutely horrific choice. Which of course means he was a cinch for Trumpov to appoint him.
Kudlow is a clown. If he can stop the tariffs that would be his only worth.
Does this appointment need senate confirmation?
His protests will vanish proportionately to the amount he is paid to cheerlead Trump’s point of view.
Only if that Clown is IT.
@schrodingers_cat: Sadly, no. It’s an advisory position.
He will be one of the two devil’s on Trump’s shoulders whispering into his ear, essentially.
Kudlow used to be on Crossfire or something similar. He won’t last. He can’t seem to keep the dismissive tone out of his voice.
I guess we could consider ourselves lucky that Don Lapre is no longer available.
He was on the TV a lot too.
@lgerard: Mr. Ed would have been a better choice.
Next three vacancies: Moe, Larry, Curly
I wonder if Kudlow is in favor of the death penalty for anyone he ever copped from?
I will enjoy watching Kudlow’s fall.
Missouri is trying to become Kansas as fast as we can. Give us some time. It’s not easy to screw everything up.
Surely you mean appointees.
I believe any addict who was really clean and sober would turn down the job.
Hope you brought a book.
I’ve been waiting for him to get what’s coming to him since 2000.
did the stooges ever do to you?
@TenguPhule: Under Trump I wouldn’t be surprised if there actually was a Bureau Of Moe, Larry and Curly.
@TenguPhule: It’s Trump. His touch is inescapable.
His I.Q. will be announced as almost one of the highest.
@Baud: I see what you did there.
Gin & Tonic
I want to see his SF86. That’ll be a hoot.
@hellslittlestangel: I thought that was downsized into Jared.
Mike in NC
So will Kudlow last as long as The Mooch?
All economic future indicators are now pointing down and smell strongly of brimstone.
mai naem mobile
My sister and I happenwd to have CNBC on when Kudlow was on today. Conversation as follows:
Sis – who’s this idiot?
Me – Larry Kudlow. Had a job with Reagan. Had a coke problem in the 80s.
Sis – He still has a coke problem apparently!
There was a wonderful segment back in 2016 on CNBC when some Wall Street professional trader really lit into Kudlow, accusing him of Wall Street’s greatest sin, “you’ve cost people who listened to you a lot of money, Larry.” Since the guy was way richer than Kudlow, the hosts didn’t know which way to turn. Comedy gold.
I see Rand Paul is going through his usual charade of loudly opposing trump’s latest nominees before eventually voting for them. His act is getting very old.
Adam was saying yesterday that trying to get Kudlow a security clearance is going to be a hoot. Turns out that cocaine addicts are a security risk — who knew? ?
I went to Early Vote today, and there was a teacher there, with his class, registering the Youth and they voted. Made me feel good :)
Illinois folks, remember….the youth only has to be 18 by General Election time in November. They can register and vote at 17. We have same day registration in Illinois.
City of Chicago – has 52 Early Voting Locations
Suburban Cook County- also has 52 Early Voting Locations
Took me less than 15 minutes to vote :)
He spoke out against torture. I’m fine with that.
@Mnemosyne: Probably already a Putin asset.
@schrodingers_cat: Probably used Putin as a reference.
I honestly suspect Kudlow was hired to be Sitgibbon’s dealer.
@Baud: Judy Woodruff will still pretend that this makes T more presidential, that he is coming into his own.
I am confident Trump has at least once asked for someone to be hired to an important position who he saw on television but is dead.
EDIT – “What about this Reagan guy. My voters love him. That’s the guy I want to have on my team. Can we get Reagan?”
O/T The California AG went to my kid’s high school today to accompany the students for the 10:00 walkout. They’re living American history in real time.
“Comfortable in his own skin”
Steve in the ATL
@trollhattan: you prefer a “silence of the lambs” vibe?
@trollhattan: well FSM despair if he was comfortable in anyone else’s…..
Trump will never be comfortable in his own skin. He has to be the most insecure person on the planet.
No, Putin probably told Trump to hire him.
$10 G a month coke habit? I liked coke back in the 70’s & 80’s but 10K a month habit?
This guy shouldn’t be on any federal payroll.
For the record I stopped doing the powders in 87.
Poked me inna’ eye!
(Actually, my mom hated them and wouldn’t let us watch them)
You’ll remember his Frederick Douglass tribute
@kindness: $100K a month
@efgoldman: That’s because you were a wise guy, huh?
And your excuse now is?
A VERY common parental reaction to the Stooges. Before Iggy even.
If video games didn’t exist Republicans would blame school shootings on kids watching the Stooges and American Bandstand.
@TenguPhule: He still respects his mama.
Toys R us RIP.
@David Anderson: @TenguPhule: I’ve seen both figures. Went w. $10K because the arithmetic of the higher number doesn’t seem plausible. At a street price of ~$145/gm in 1994, a $100K/month coke bill would suggest he was huffing something like 23 grams per day. I just can’t believe anyone could live through that for very long, where as two, two and a half grams a day sounds like a plausibly sustainable serious habit.
@Tom Levenson: That was erudite yet thuggish.
Was Ivan Boesky not available? Milken? Gordon Gekko? Larry Wildman?
Anyone else flash back on this brief movie excerpt?
It now seems clear that it’s only a matter of time before Sean Hannity, John Bolton, Virginia Foxx, and Kid Rock are in the cabinet and/or White House some kind of official capacity.
They will no doubt all emerge from the same small clown car to assume their posts.
What are we getting worked up about? With Trump’s track record Kudlow will be here and gone in three weeks.
Another triumphant takeover (not!) by Bain Capital.
@hueyplong: Nugent for Secretary of War.
Watching the Trump administration is kinda like watching an impending train crash. You know it’s going to be big. The only question is how much damage will be caused. And the sad thing is that Trump is bragging that he is getting what he wants in all the top people around him.
What we are learning from this is that there are some businessmen who think that they can impose their will on the world and make a profit. Reality, analysis, advice, none of it matters. Everything will work out simply by their sheer force of will, as loyal as they have loyal underlings who can execute their bosses directives.
Steve Mnuchin at Treasury is a dunce. Kudlow is a dope. I guess it will be up to the Fed chair to try to counteract the inevitable economic policy nonsense coming from Trump. It is somewhat surprising that plutocrats like the Koch brothers and the Mercers and Randian Bad Boy Paul Ryan apparently believe that the purity of the free market will emerge from the chaos about to be unleashed by this economic Dumb and Dumber team. But there you are.
It is doubly sad that the UK is also submitting to economic policy incompetence. Theresa May’s government tried to suppress a document indicating that BREXIT will hurt that nation’s economy, substituting a short report that was essentially nonsense. On both sides of the Atlantic, conservative leaders are convinced that they can just bullshit their way through any difficulties.
@TenguPhule: Good. Those assholes killed Child World.
Gin & Tonic
@David Anderson: That’s a lot of nose candy.
This would be a good time to mention: I have had the lifelong misfortune of many friends thinking The Marx Brothers and The Three Stooges are of a piece. Then I show them a Marx Brothers clip and they’re astonished.
At National Security Adviser Scott Baio’s press conference today…
Kudlow is another example of why it’s good to be a white man who can socialize. Talk about failing upwards.
Happily, I had momentarily forgotten that Nugent and Baio exist.
Unhappily, that has now been corrected.
@trollhattan: ❤️Xavier Becerra❤️
Megan McArdle says “Larry Kudlow’s Appointment Means Very Little.”
That’s the title of her column at the WaPo. The title was the only thing I saw; I do not propose to read or link to any of her spewings.
Gin & Tonic
Checking Kudlow’s Wiki page, at some point in his rehab he converted to Roman Catholicism. In point of fact, Opus Dei.
@different-church-lady: O_o ouch
West of the Rockies (been a while)
Well, now Romney and the vultures can descend to pick the body clean.
Well, she should know.
@Frankensteinbeck: He has, at minimum, said “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” So, it’s definitely possible ;)
Or he was an easy mark.
Steve in the ATL
@Gin & Tonic: the bad decisions never stop!
Kudlow is the perfect choice for Trump and the Repubs.
1. Always wrong about everything in his area of “expertise”. CHECK.
2. Sordid and skeevy past. YEP.
3. Loud, obnoxious, arrogant, and generally ignorant. Uh-huh.
4. Sycophantic lickspittle to the uber rich. Ding Ding Ding!
We have a winner.
I’ve griped about this many times but the grudge I hold against our media is so strong that I have to repeat how angry I am that the national press never went to Kansas. They let these GOP assholes spin about tax cuts and job creators ad nauseum but they never investigate the results of GOP economics. They never hold them accountable for their bullshit. Why didn’t we have stories on the evening news about the school closures, human misery, contracting economy, growing inequality, etc that resulted? They could have compared the catastrophes in Kansas to the success in California to see how sound economic policies can transform an economy.
I’m just so sick of the lazy reporting that we have had to endure. I’m more than sick about it. I’m furious.
Was going to suggest a little tidying up: Megan McArdle Means Very Little.
Gin & Tonic
@Steve in the ATL: Born and raised a Jew, converting to Opus Dei. That’s one path, I suppose.
For all the talk of running the country like a business, I can’t imagine any company’s shareholders tolerating their CEO taking more than a year to assemble a team. This guy’s a joke.
Fuck it. Do we really think Kudlow can last more than two, maybe three Scaramuccis tops?
@NorthLeft12: exactly. Who cares? Kudlow’s just another socially offensive right wing moron. Let Trumpov keep replacing hacks with even dumber hacks. I’m looking and November and it sure looks like a blue tsunami…one with subpoena power
Here is a whole other conversation-starter to have with a kid.
Given his track record, one wonders: has anyone ever seen Kudlow and Bloody Bill Kristol in the same room at the same time?
In the movie Brazil there was that character who kept getting plastic surgery and each one was botched worse than the previous one. And she eventually died from one last surgery. Just thought of that, no particular reason…
CNBC gasbag Jim Cramer tries not to let his politics creep into his stock-picking clown show, but he tipped his hand when he spent all of last week saying that the Trump Tariffs really wouldn’t be so bad (and might actually help!) the economy / the stock market. Even though every competent economist is saying just the opposite. Which makes me wonder if the orange fart cloud accidentally mixed them up from the old Kudlow & Cramer show and hired the wrong one. Neither one is qualified to run a child’s lemonade stand, but “that’s a feature not a bug” in the Trump admin.
And how did the market respond to a massive cokehead being put in charge of economic policy? Down another 300 points. Thanks repubs!
@different-church-lady: But they’re taking Babies-R-Us down with them.
It was my lifesaver back when WarriorGirl was born. They had all the crap, in all the size variations necessary, that I needed with a baby. Target only stocked the medium size, which never ever worked for us.
We’d stopped getting anything at ToysRUs the last few years, because other than video games, they didn’t stock anything that WarriorGirl or her now 4th grade classmates wanted. The Lego Store or one of the local toy stores had what that bunch wants (and still do). And once she graduated from little kid “Backpack with free lunchbag”, we stopped going altogether.
@raptusregaliter: IIRC Cramer is or was a fairly liberal Democrat. More than a few of those see tariffs as a potentially good thing. But giving Trump the benefit of the doubt in implementing any policy is a serious mistake.
Would expect expansion of the already 100+ store Buy Buy Baby chain operated by Bed Bath & Beyond.
(Terrible name, IMHO.)
Fuck. Megan McArdle is always wrong.
@Brachiator: “On both sides of the Atlantic, conservative leaders are convinced that they can just bullshit their way through any difficulties.”
I read the book (essay) “On Bullshit” by philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt years after I saw him on the Colbert Report, but it has stayed with me. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Bullshit. WIkipedia says the book is about the use of bullshit in communications, but it’s really much broader than that. These people really have broadened it everything they control.
This is an excellent post by Tom. I was ABD Economics, but don’t really follow these celebrity fool economists; they only have name recognition to me. A friend of mine in grad school always used to quote Steely Dan “The things that pass for knowledge I just don’t understand”.
OK, I read my own linked wiki article. I guess I meant I saw the author on Jon Stewart, not Colbert.
that’s a lot of fucking coke.
@Jay S: Some liberal economists see targeted tariffs as a good thing – or they CAN be a good thing.
A blanket steel tariff except where we feel like it on a given week is a REALLY bad policy, for a number of reasons.
Question: does anybody feel like flipping tables about the passage of that effing terrible banking bill or is it just me? Is there anyone out there that can explain why so many frickin Democrats voted for this toxic pill?
What kind of security clearance is needed for Kudlow’s new job?
Former(?) cocaine addict? Boy, that Trump sure has good judgement.
Its not just you. Democratic Senators thought Republicans wouldn’t rickroll them again on this bill.
And Lucy pulled away the football….again.
/GOP stuffed the bill with shit. How bad the shit will be we are soon going to find out.
There are 15 ToysRUs stores in and around KL. Maybe the local company will rebrand and keep going.
@FlyingToaster: Babies-R-Us was great, yes.
I think that, aside from online shopping and specialty places like the Lego Store, Target has been eating Toys-R-Us’s lunch. Their typical toy department is pretty big and has a good sort of middlebrow range of toys and games, and they’ve got video games and electronics too. My daughter’s first impulse has been to go to Target when she has some money she wants to spend, not Toys-R-Us.
@Matt McIrvin: I have never seen a target or other store that can compare to toys r us. Suppose Walmart will have to do, but they aren’t as good. There are no other toy stores available here. One of the problems with a monopoly is what happens if they fail.
Currently the 10 year old nephew is trending video games and graphic novels. Legos and Pokemon can be found on eBay and Craigslist but earlier it was all toys r us. Going to be a problem for classmate birthdays too.
I think Brad Delong put it best today: hiring Kudlow as an economic adviser is like appointing William Shatner commander of the 7th Fleet. He plays an economist/pundit on TV, so why not? Trump played a businessman on TV, and he’s rockin’ it? Amirite?
How any self-respecting citizen can look at this clown-car-cum-trainwreck and think it’s any way to run a country is simply beyond me.
I’ve been reviewing Wiki and the latest revision of his Wikipedia page completely omits his cocaine habit. The edits have been constant, repetitive and forceful. Someone wants to clean up his history and it appears they are succeeding.
@Adrift: It has been edited (again!) and his cocaine use is under a new heading “Controversy” instead of it’s previous position in “Private Life”
@Adrift: IIRC if you have an edit account I think you can petition the moderators to rollback & lock the account ¯_(ツ)_/¯
ETA you should drop in a comment https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Contact_us
Kudlow is going to crash and burn so hard that the Hindenburg will look like a wobbly landing next to him. Back in 2008, I worked for a major financial firm, and the guys in Portfolios & Investments sneered at him for being a reverse barometer. The only other CNBC alumn who was wrong more often than Kudlow was Jim Cramer, who became infamous at our firm when he assured viewers in March 2008 that Bear Stearns absolutely, positively, was not going to fail. We had nervous clients calling for over two hours after that broadcast, wanting to make sure that they had no exposure to Bear Stearns, or to sell any stock they had in the company.
Gin & Tonic
@Adrift: I note his Wiki page mentions nothing about the draft. He was born in 1947, so he turned 18 in 1965. The draft began in 1964. How did he avoid conscription?