Kellyanne Conway Invokes 'Sesame Street' to Ridicule the Media Over Recession Fears

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway invoked Sesame Street while responding to a question about the economy on Monday, saying that journalists "seem to cover it only when you can use the Sesame Street word of the day: recession."

While answering questions about protests in Hong Kong, mass shootings and the economy, Conway bristled at recent coverage of the country's economy, and reporting on the possibility of a recession.

The inversion of the Treasury bond yield curve, a signal that has preceded every recession since 1955, generated much of the recent concern about a coming economic downturn. Longer-term bonds typically offer investors better yields than shorter ones because they carry greater risk, but when investors fear a recession, they flock to longer-term bonds, driving their yields downward. Conway, however, sought to dismiss any fears conjured by recent economic data.

"The fundamentals of the economy are very strong," Conway said, adding that "it's nice to see the media finally cover the Trump economy." She touted job mobility in her remarks, which echoed statements offered on Sunday by National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, who downplayed the possibility of a recession by pointing to a 0.7 percent increase in retail sales from June to July. The increase was a 3.4 percent rise from over the figures released the same time last year.

"Consumer confidence is very high. The optimism is there. Half a million plus manufacturing jobs since the president got elected. Six million plus new jobs since the president got elected," Conway said. "The unemployment rates are low, the growth rates are higher, the confidence levels are high. That matters, consumers are spending their money."

(FactCheck.org said Trump had created 5.6 million jobs though the second quarter of the year. Employers added 164,000 jobs in July.)

Although Conway offered a rosy depiction of the economy, the reality is more complicated. Unemployment is at 3.7 percent, just a tick above a half-century low of 3.6, where it sat for two months. Job creation has been steady, even if the levels under Trump are still below those that took place during the end of Obama's tenure.

But Trump's trade war, which he previously said would be easy to win, is dragging on, and its global impacts are becoming more apparent.

Consumer sentiment, which Conway touted, decreased 6.4 percent according to preliminary figures published Friday, dropping to its lowest level since January. Richard Curtin, a professor at the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center, which releases the figures, wrote that Trump's threat to impose new tariffs on Chinese imports had spurred the slide in sentiment.

U.S. business investment slowed last quarter, although it dropped less than predicted. Central banks have pursued aggressive rate cuts and figures released last week showed that Germany's economy, the 4th largest in the world, had contracted last quarter. China's economy grew at the slowest rate in nearly 30 years last quarter. And AP Moller-Maersk, the world's largest shipping company, which is used to assess trade sentiment, said last week that the trade war had stunted growth.

Although a recession will come eventually, it isn't guaranteed to occur during Trump's presidency. But the president, who built his appeal on improving the economy and has sought to take credit for the economic successes, is positioning himself to avoid blame for any possible downturn. The president has regularly lashed out at the Federal Reserve, claiming that that the central bank has stunted economic growth by raising its interest rates too quickly. He did so again last week, tweeting that "Our problem is with the Fed. Raised too much & too fast."

Kellyanne Conway
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway listens to questions from the media after appearing on a Fox Network morning television show from the North Lawn of the White House. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Kellyanne Conway Invokes 'Sesame Street' to Ridicule the Media Over Recession Fears | News
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