Forget All the Cocaine, Trump’s New Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow is One of TV’s Worst Financial Pundits
President Donald Trump, a brash and lurid caricature forged by the tabloids of 1980s New York and the cable networks of the 2000s, on Wednesday selected a man of his own breed to serve as the next director of the National Economic Council.
Larry Kudlow — a CNBC pundit known for his bold pinstripe suits and gaudy ties — made a name for himself as an ardent supply-side economist serving in the Reagan administration, and then as a successful banker and TV economist in the 80s and 90s. He’s set to replace Trump’s outgoing chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, who picked up his ball and said he was going home after a spat with the president over tariffs.
But aside from the longtime TV gig and the Wolf of Wall Street steeze, there’s another thing Larry Kudlow is known for: being really fucking wrong. (Also, all the cocaine, but we’ll get to that.)
So, to help readers of Mediaite really get to know who will be wielding the titanic economic might of America’s $20 trillion GDP, here’s a handy collection of the times Larry Kudlow absolutely nailed it.
1. Larry Kudlow, 2007: “There is no recession.”
Being chronically wrong is just another day in the life for Kudlow, a man the New York Times described as an “unabashed prognosticator,” but this one is an absolute doozy: in a National Review article posted on December 7, 2007 that should be framed and hung in the MoMA, Kudlow declared the following:
There is no recession. Despite all the doom and gloom from the economic pessimistas, the resilient U.S economy continues moving ahead quarter after quarter, year after year defying dire forecasts and delivering positive growth. In fact, we are about to enter the seventh consecutive year of the Bush boom.
Well, December 2007 also happened to be the month that the worst recession since the Great Depression kicked off, followed a few months later by the global financial crisis.
2. Larry Kudlow, 2008: Oil prices will help the stock market rally and Sarah Palin will strengthen John McCain’s presidential bid.
In September 2008, the month the economy effectively collapsed, Kudlow was chastising the “gloom and doom and pessimism in investment circles,” making the quixotic (and hilariously wrong) case for a stock market rally.
He concluded his projections with another point of optimism: “Sarah Palin will strengthen the McCain presidential case.”
3. Larry Kudlow, 2002: We should invade Iraq because it would “revive the American spirit.”
“Taking Back The Market — by Force,” is the name of Kudlow’s 2002 piece for the National Review, which makes the case for invading Iraq on the basis that the “stock market is slumping” because “only one in three Americans believe the U.S. is now winning the war on terrorism.”
“The shock therapy of decisive war will elevate the stock market by a couple-thousand points,” he wrote, suggesting we kick things off with “a large-scale special-forces commando raid on the Iraqi oil fields.”
We all know how that ended. $2 trillion down the drain, one Great Recession, unending conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan later, and Larry Kudlow is tapped as director of the National Economic Council!
4. Larry Kudlow, 2011: “We should be grateful” that human toll of Japan earthquake and tsunami is worse than the economic toll.
“The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that,” Kudlow said on his CNBC show of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that took tens of thousands of lives and wound up being one of the costliest natural disasters in history, estimated at more than $200 billion.
5. Larry Kudlow, 2015: Bush tax cuts led to five-year boom!
Kudlow, in a spasm of his famed supply-side zealotry, lauded the Bush tax cuts of 2003 as having spurred a five-year “boom” in the U.S. economy.
Of course, those tax cuts, which cut rates for the wealthiest Americans, continued past 2008 (again, the year of the global financial crisis) and through 2012, as the U.S. still struggled to recover from the Great Recession.
And as NY Mag’s Jonathan Chait pointed out at the time, “the portion of those tax cuts benefiting only the richest 1 percent of taxpayers ended at the beginning of 2013,” and job growth accelerated afterwards.
6. All the cocaine.
In 1994, after serving for years as the chief economist at Bear Stearns, Kudlow was fired when he confessed to an insane $100,000 per month cocaine habit. A few months after losing the $800k a year gig, Kudlow seemed to have turned his life around by nabbing a few media jobs, including getting hired as economics editor of the National Review — while claiming he beat his addiction.
But then, some 15 months after he was ousted from Bear Stearns, his wife filed for divorce and, per the New York Times, “an order to prevent Mr. Kudlow from tapping their Bear Stearns retirement account to pay for a weeks-long cocaine binge.”
After nearly killing himself with his prodigious cocaine abuse, Kudlow ended up in and out of rehab a number of times, including a stint at the celeb favorite Hazelden in Minnesota.
To Kudlow’s credit, he did eventually turn things around, and has now been sober for more than two decades — which is commendable, and another quality he now shares with new boss Trump, a famous teetotaler.
When the Times asked Kudlow whether he thought his substance abuse could pose problems for him as a White House staff nominee, he replied: “We’ll see how that plays out.”
[image via screengrab]
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