So top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow likes us, again. Phew. He had us all worried there for a bit.
Mr. Kudlow says he’s “proud” of Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for “hanging tough” against Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant.
Thanks, Uncle Larry. That’s so kind of you.
By hanging tough, we presume the former television personality means inviting Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to spend the winter nestled in her $5.6-million Vancouver pied-à-terre, pending the outcome of a U.S. extradition request on charges related to sanctions against Iran.
And here we thought it was all about Mr. Trudeau and the federal government simply following the rule of law − abiding by extradition treaties and all that legal stuff.
Never mind. If Mr. Kudlow say it’s really about Canada bravely staring down the Chinese bully, then surely that’s what it is.
The kind words are notable because Mr. Kudlow hasn’t exactly been a reliable friend to Canada since he joined the White House last year.
Some readers might remember that last October, Mr. Kudlow called our Prime Minister “that little punk kid running Canada” at an invitation-only dinner in Washington hosted by the American Spectator, a conservative magazine. He suggested, without evidence, that Mr. Trudeau’s behaviour had nearly sabotaged the negotiations that produced the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Then there was last June’s contentious Group of Seven summit in beautiful Charlevoix, Que., where U.S. President Donald Trump showed up late, left early and insulted just about everyone there.
Mr. Kudlow had quite a different take on what went down on the bluffs of Charlevoix, high above the St. Lawrence River. Mr. Trudeau, he said, had betrayed the United States by publicly rebuking Mr. Trump for invoking national security to hit its neighbour and ally with tariffs on steel and aluminum.
“POTUS,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper, using the acronym for the president of the United States, “is not gonna let a Canadian prime minister push him around.”
Bygones. That was so 2018. Now, he’s proud of Mr. Trudeau.
Like the kindly uncle, congratulating his young nephew who just got into a good college, he’s slapping Mr. Trudeau on the back for a job well done. Trudeau is a nice young man now, not the punk he was back in high school.
Of course, it’s hard to take Mr. Kudlow too seriously. He’s become one of the forgotten ones in the chaotic frat house that is the Trump administration. He is chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), an in-house agency that produces economic forecasts and policy analysis. But it’s not clear what he actually does, beyond an occasional appearance on cable news as a Trump apologist.
Before Mr. Trump came along, the CEA was typically headed by a respected PhD economist (think Larry Summers). Mr. Kudlow, a long-time CNBC business-show host, also spent several years as an economist on Wall Street, eventually rising to chief economist of now-defunct Bear Stearns.
And yet, Mr. Kudlow isn’t what most of us would think of as an economist. His only university degree is in history (not that there is anything wrong with that).
As a TV talking head, Mr. Kudlow was a dependable advocate for free markets and free trade. Before joining the White House, he was critical of Mr. Trump’s aggressive use of tariffs. Now, he’s become an enabler for his protectionist boss.
And while Mr. Kudlow was always consistent in his pro-market views, his record as a prognosticator is less reliable. During his years on Wall Street, Mr. Kudlow had a history of making “shockingly wrong financial predictions,” as Money Magazine put it. Among them: a 1993 call that then-president Bill Clinton’s tax hikes would kill the economy. Instead, the economy and the markets boomed for most of the decade.
In 2002, he said the “decisive” war in Iraq would send the stock market soaring. The markets dropped sharply, and nearly two decades later, it’s not clear what the U.S.-led war accomplished strategically.
Then, there was his bold prediction in December, 2007, of an enduring “Goldilocks economy” and no imminent recession. It turns out the U.S. economy was already in recession.
So while it’s certainly a relief that Mr. Kudlow has stopped trashing us, we’ll take the praise with a grain of salt.