The genius of Larry Kudlow

by | Jan 10, 2009

Optimism is in short supply at the moment, so I was psyched to read that Larry Kudlow – the National Review’s economics editor and (in his owns words) “a renowned free market, supply-side economist armed with knowledge, vision, and integrity acquired over a storied career spanning three decades” – has read the tea leaves and seen clear signs that the US economy is now bottoming out from a recession that hasn’t been “that big a deal”.

Phew. We can all stop worrying then. After all Kudlow’s stunning track record proves he really has his finger on the pulse of US economic performance. Let’s review some of the highlights from his analysis over the past couple of years:

Feb 2007: Praises Ben Bernanke for “laying the groundwork for what is virtually a runaway bull market” – one he assures us a few months’ later has guaranteed the US’s role at the epicentre of a “a global boom, marked by a spread of free-market capitalism like we’ve never seen before.”

Sept 2007: Warns us that “it’s very easy to be totally pessimistic and bearish right now, but that’s precisely why I will avoid falling into that trap. Optimists are winners. Pessimists are losers.”

Sticks to this creed throughout the quarter in which the recession got underwayOctober (“if things are so bad, why are they so good?”), when he says growth is accelerating…November (subprime is “just not that big a deal”)…and December (“the prophets of recessionary doom…have been proven wrong once again”)

In Feb and March 2008, admits that a mild recession is possible, but assures us that “Bernanke’s emergency machinations to fight the recession in housing and housing-related credit are starting to show very positive effects.” There is no “genuine, across-the-board credit crunch,” he tell us in April. As a result, any slump “could be over by late summer.”

In September (with summer a memory and the economic clouds darkening), swoons for Henry Paulson who has embraced the gales of creative destruction and promised “no more federal bailouts. Not for Lehman Brothers. Not for global insurer AIG.”

Three days later, however, swoons for Paulson again, this time for preventing what would have been an “unfathomable” – an AIG collapse. Bailouts, it turns out, are a simply wonderful idea – not only will they save capitalism from doom; for taxpayers they’re a “win-win-win-win.” The government is sure to get its money back – even better it’s highly likely to make “a handsome profit” – enough to “pay down the national debt.”

October 2008: Is appalled by the “fear and panic” that have gripped the economy. “It is one of those moments in history when people feel helpless, frustrated, and bewildered about what’s going on and why it’s happening.” But still assures us that “much good may ultimately come of this terrifying correction.”

November 2008: Is cock-a-hoop at the “economic-primer” George Bush has left for his successor-elect Barack Obama, who apparently now has “an outsized responsibility [eh?] to mend and revive the economy.” Obama needs to access Bush’s wisdom and follow his economic-growth model, one “that has worked so well and so long for this country.”

Yes – that’s right. Bush (“the top economic forecaster in the country”) and his administration have left the US poised for recovery. If it all goes wrong, we’ll all know who to blame – that “extremely liberal-left” guy who is just about to take over. But as long as the new President tries to do what Bush would have done, then everything – my friends – will be alright.


  • David Steven is a senior fellow at New York University, where he founded the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a multi-stakeholder partnership to deliver the SDG targets for preventing all forms of violence, strengthening governance, and promoting justice and inclusion. He was lead author for the ministerial Task Force on Justice for All and senior external adviser for the UN-World Bank flagship study on prevention, Pathways for Peace. He is a former senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of The Risk Pivot: Great Powers, International Security, and the Energy Revolution (Brookings Institution Press, 2014). In 2001, he helped develop and launch the UK’s network of climate diplomats. David lives in and works from Pisa, Italy.

More from Global Dashboard

Our COVID Future: The Long Crisis Scenarios

Our COVID Future: The Long Crisis Scenarios

Created in partnership with: COVID-19 marks a turning point in the 21st century.​ Levels of uncertainty are off the chart, making predictions impossible. ​But if we can create plausible stories about different futures, we create a...

Protecting our Critical Global Infrastructure

Protecting our Critical Global Infrastructure

Earlier this week, we published Shooting the Rapids – COVID-19 and the Long Crisis of Globalisation. In the final section, we present a plan for collective action at the global level with four elements:  Firefight better – getting the emergency response...