On The Money: Trump takes victory lap on strong economic numbers | Trump keeps foes, friends guessing on trade policy | Housing regulator under investigation for alleged sexual harassment

On The Money: Trump takes victory lap on strong economic numbers | Trump keeps foes, friends guessing on trade policy | Housing regulator under investigation for alleged sexual harassment
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Happy Friday and welcome back to On The Money. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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Write us with tips, suggestions and news: slane@thehill.com, vneedham@thehill.com, njagoda@thehill.com and nelis@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @SylvanLane, @VickofTheHill, @NJagoda and @NivElis.

 

THE BIG DEAL: The U.S. economy expanded at a 4.1 percent rate in the April-to-June quarter, the highest level in nearly four years and the best showing for President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE, the Commerce Department said on Friday. 

The gross domestic product (GDP) report was the strongest since the third quarter of 2014, when growth hit a 5.2 percent pace.

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Trump administration officials said it was a sign that the economy could expand at a 3 percent annual rate for the first time since 2005, when it grew at a 3.3 percent pace.

The April–June figure, which was expected to come in around 4.2 percent, easily eclipsed the 2.2 percent annual growth during the first three months of the year.  The Hill's Vicki Needham breaks down the report here.

 

President Trump took a victory lap at the White House after the report was released, touting his tax and regulatory policies as drivers of the best economic growth in nearly four years.

In a speech at the White House, Trump said the country is growing "at the amazing rate" and that "we're on track to hit the highest annual average growth rate in over 13 years."

Trade deals will further help the economy and "we're going to go a lot higher than these numbers and these are great numbers," said Trump, surrounded by top administration officials on the South Lawn.

Even so, economists have doubted the sustainability of the second quarter growth rate. Analysts have attributed the massive spike in growth to one-time increases in consumer spending driven by tax cuts, and the global rush to buy U.S. soybeans before tariffs kick in. Vicki and I explain that here.

 

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LEADING THE DAY

Trump keeps friends and foes guessing on trade: Where is President Trump's trade policy going?

That was the question being asked in Washington and beyond after the president offered conciliatory remarks in a Wednesday news conference and then returned to a harder rhetorical line while visiting an Illinois steel plant on Thursday.

Trump seemed to de-escalate from the growing threat of an all-out trade war with Europe when he spoke Wednesday alongside European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in the White House Rose Garden.

But by the following afternoon, Trump was insisting that "we're putting the world's trade cheaters on notice."

Trump's improvisational style makes it next to impossible to guess where he goes next -- something that could be a problem for everyone from American workers to foreign investors. The Hill's Niall Stanage explains why here.

 

Senate passes tariff-relief bill (no, not those tariffs): The Senate cleared legislation on Thursday that would eliminate duties on imported raw materials used for production that aren't readily available in the United States.

The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act, which passed the House in January, was approved by a voice vote as the chamber wrapped up its work for the week.

Because the Senate amended the legislation, it will need to bounce back to and be passed again by the House -- which left town on Thursday until September -- before it can head to President Trump's desk.

The bill comes as Trump's broader trade policies have rankled Republicans on Capitol Hill, who worry steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will roil the economy months before a midterm election. Those tariffs are unaffected by this bill.

 

NEXT WEEK'S NEWS, NOW

 

GOOD TO KNOW

 

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Starbucks officials said closing its stores nationwide for an afternoon in May to conduct anti-bias training hurt its sales over the past quarter.
  • A top Office of Management and Budget (OMB) official said Thursday that the agency has completed its first review of a proposed rule to implement the GOP tax law under a process agreed to with the Treasury Department in April.
  • A key member of the House Financial Services Committee wants to see lawmakers focus next year on oversight of the "muddied and fairly opaque" markets for initial coin offerings and trading digital tokens, according to Bloomberg.

 

Recap the week with On The Money: