Donald Trump already has a tenuous relationship with the truth, but he may have just outdone himself by doubling down on his mistaken claims about China’s currency intervention.
Throughout the heated 2016 presidential campaign, Trump vowed to label China a currency manipulator "on Day One," saying they were "killing" Americans on trade by keeping the yuan artificially low and boosting exports.
There was just one problem. Economists, including those once vocal about China’s currency intervention, almost unanimously noted the country had stopped trying to depress the yuan in 2014.
In fact, sharp capital outflows during a stock market selloff in 2015 actually forced the authorities to meddle in the other direction, by propping up the exchange rate.
Fast forward to Trump’s rise to power.
Not only has he not labeled China a currency manipulator, he has suddenly developed a kinship with Chinese President Xi Jinping. This budding relationship happens to coincide with lucrative trademark approvals for the Trump brand in China, both for the president himself and his daughter Ivanka.
On Day 101 of his administration, when he was pressed during an interview with CBS’ Face the Nation on why he hadn't followed through on his promise of labeling China a currency manipulator, Trump did something staggering.
He claimed credit for having stopped the manipulation since he took office — even though that currency manipulation hasn't happened since before he even entered the presidential race.
"When they talk about currency manipulation, and I did say I would call China, if they were, a currency manipulator, early in my tenure," Trump said. "And then I get there. Number one, they — as soon as I got elected, they stopped. They're not — it's not going down anymore, their currency."
The reporter rightly corrected Trump, saying, "But that had been true before. That had been true ... during the campaign, sir."
Nevertheless, he persisted.
"No, not true to the extent that we're talking about," Trump replied. "Much more important than that, as to when, but, you know, it did stop. And I was talking about it all during the campaign."
He added: "And I would say that I was the one that got them to stop."
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