According to legend, Grigory Potemkin, one of Catherine the Great’s ministers (and her lover), created a false impression of prosperity when the empress toured Ukraine.
.. the legend has become a byword for the general idea of prettifying reality to please a tyrannical ruler.
.. But Trump’s actual policy initiatives aren’t doing so well. His tax cut isn’t producing the promised surge in business investment, let alone the promised wage gains; all it has really done is lead to a lot of stock buybacks. Reflecting this reality, the tax cut is becoming less popular over time... the trade war that was supposed to be “good, and easy to win” isn’t generating the kinds of headlines Trump wanted... Instead, we’re hearing about production shifting overseas to escape both U.S. tariffs on imported inputs and foreign retaliation against U.S. products... making stuff up is actually standard operating procedure for these guys... Trade policy itself is being driven by claims about the massive tariffs U.S. products face from, say, the European Union — tariffs that, like the immigrant crime wave, don’t actually exist... he declared that the head of U.S. Steel called him to say that the company was opening six new plants. It isn’t, and as far as we can tell the phone call never happened... the Council of Economic Advisers did an internal report concluding that Trump trade policy will cost jobs, not create them; Kevin Hassett, the chairman, pressed on these reports, said that he could neither confirm nor deny them; in other words, they’re true... Hassett is declaring that last year’s corporate tax cut has led to a “massive amount of activity coming home” — which is just false. Some companies are rearranging their accounting, producing what looks on paper like money coming back to the U.S., but this has no real effect on investment or employment... declaration by Larry Kudlow, the administration’s top economic official, that the budget deficit is “coming down rapidly” as “those revenues come rolling in.”.. reports that Trump wants to withdraw from the World Trade Organization... The best hope for breaking the cycle of retaliation would be for Trump to realize that the trade war is going badly, take a deep breath, and step back from the brink... But who will tell him how things are really going?.. Trump will dismiss reports of problems as fake news. Reality will take a long time to break through, if it ever does. And by then the world trading system may be broken beyond repair.