Europe’s Economy Grew Faster than U.S.

“Economic growth in the 19 countries that use the euro currency was 2.5% in 2017… Growth in the 28-member European Union also reached 2.5% last year,” CNN reports.

“It’s the best period of growth for both groupings since 2007, putting Europe just ahead of the 2.3% expansion posted by the U.S. in 2017.”

Millennials Say Country Is On the Wrong Track

A new NBC News/GenForward survey finds that 63% of millennials think things in this country are off on the wrong track. Only 18% think the country is generally headed in the right direction, and another 18% aren’t sure.

Sixty-three percent of millennials also disapprove of the way President Trump is handling his job, with 46% saying they strongly disapprove. Only 19% approve of Trump.

Even among those millennials who said they voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election, 22% disapprove of him now.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I will say this with great conviction, that had the opposing party won, in my opinion, because they would have added tremendous regulation, I believe the markets would’ve been down anywhere from 25 to 50 percent.”

— President Trump, quoted by Axios, during a meeting at the World Economic Forum at Davos.

The Rich Got Much Richer In 2017

Felix Salmon: “I’ve always been OK with adding up the wealth of the rich, and looking at an annual increase is a great way of demonstrating just how enormous the returns to capital were in 2017. Of course, if stocks had gone down instead of up, those returns would have been negative, and Oxfam would have concentrated on something else. But at the end of this crazy bull market, it’s always worth remembering just how enormous the big winners’ gains have been.”

“Specifically, the world’s billionaires – the richest 2,000 people on the planet – saw their wealth increase by a staggering $762 billion in just one year. That’s an average of $381 million apiece. If those billionaires had simply been content with staying at their 2016 wealth, and had given their one-year gains to the world’s poorest people instead, then extreme poverty would have been eradicated. Hell, they could have eradicated extreme poverty, at least in theory, by giving up just one seventh of their annual gains.”

Trump Puts Tariffs on Solar Imports

“In the biggest blow he’s dealt to the renewable energy industry yet, President Trump decided on Monday to slap tariffs on imported solar panels,” Bloomberg reports.

“The U.S. will impose duties of as much as 30 percent on solar equipment made abroad, a move that threatens to handicap a $28 billion industry that relies on parts made abroad for 80 percent of its supply… The tariffs are just the latest action Trump has taken that undermine the economics of renewable energy.”

The Decline and Fall of Wilbur Ross

Jonathan Swan: “In a series of Oval Office meetings about six months into his presidency, Trump eviscerated Ross, telling him he’d screwed up, and badly.”

“Trump told Ross he didn’t trust him to negotiate anymore. Ross had tried in the early months of the administration, before Robert Lighthizer was confirmed as the U.S. Trade Representative, to take the lead on several crucial trade conversations. Once Lighthizer arrived there was a tussle for control over several issues. But after Ross botched — in Trump’s eyes — his dealings with China, he decided Lighthizer would be the lead negotiator on all trade issues.”

“During this period, Trump humiliated Ross in front of his colleagues, per three sources, and questioned his intelligence and competence.”

U.S. Economy Nears Full Employment

Washington Post: “A decade after the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the United States suddenly finds itself at a place where almost everyone who wants a job can find one.”

The unemployment rate in December was 4.1 percent, leaving employers struggling to attract and retain good workers and raising the prospect of higher wages as the United States approaches congressional elections in November.”

Related: This Year Looks a Lot Like 2006, Except for One Thing

Republicans Press Trump to Stay In NAFTA

“Senate Republicans have strategically revved up their attempt to convince President Trump to not withdraw from NAFTA. Some senators and aides say he may not have understood how popular it was with the caucus until recently, and are encouraging him to focus instead on improving it,” Axios reports.

“This is Congress’s clearest shot at saving the trade agreement. If Trump decides to withdraw, Congress probably couldn’t stop him, and both the legal and economic consequences are extremely unclear.”

Fox Anchor Says Minimum Wage Will Make Him Tip Less

Fox Business anchor Stuart Varney told viewers that he isn’t convinced that restaurant workers making a higher $15 minimum wage still deserve the standard 15% to 20% tip for their services.

Said Varney: “If I walk into a restaurant and I know the waiter or waitress is making $15 an hour, way more than they used to make the previous year, I am going to say, ‘wait a minute am I going to give you 20%, 15% or whatever?'”

Canada Expects Trump to Pull Out of NAFTA

Canada is increasingly convinced that President Trump will soon announce that the United States intends to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Reuters reports.

“The sources said they expected Trump would make his move at about the same time that negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico meet in late January for the sixth and penultimate round of talks to modernize the treaty.”

Even a Strong Economy Isn’t Lifting Trump

Nate Cohn: “The stock market has surged. Unemployment is at 4.1 percent. ISIS has largely been vanquished from Iraq and Syria.”

“But despite it all, Donald J. Trump’s approval ratings are mired in the upper 30s. No president has had worse ratings at this stage of his term since modern polling began more than three-quarters of a century ago.”

“Setting aside the question of how much credit first-year presidents deserve for a strong economy — they have less influence than you might think — President Trump’s ratings should be much better. A 4.1 percent unemployment rate, the lowest in 17 years, is more typically associated with a 60-plus-percent approval rating for a first-term president.”

White House Preparing Trade Crackdown

President Trump’s administration “is preparing to unveil an aggressive trade crackdown in the coming weeks that is likely to include new tariffs aimed at countering China’s and other economic competitors’ alleged unfair trade practices,” Politico reports.

“Trump is tentatively scheduled to meet with Cabinet secretaries and senior advisers as soon as this week to begin finalizing decisions on a slew of pending trade fights involving everything from imports of steel and solar panels to Chinese policies regarding intellectual property, according to one of the administration officials.”

The Weakest Job Growth In 6 Years

Steve Benen: “Providing some additional context, now that we have data for all of the previous calendar year, we can note that the U.S. added 1.84 million jobs in 2011, 2.19 million jobs in 2012, 2.33 million in 2013, 3.11 million in 2014, 2.74 million in 2015, 2.24 million in 2016, and 2.05 million in 2017.”

“Or put another way, while Donald Trump’s first year as president has been pretty good overall for job creation, Americans nevertheless saw the slowest job growth in six years.”

Lew Says Tax Cuts Will Leave the U.S. Broke

Former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told Bloomberg the Trump administration’s decision to add a significant amount of debt through last year’s tax legislation is leaving the country broke.

Said Lew: “It’s a ticking time bomb in terms of the debt. You cannot run a fiscal policy by spending trillions of dollars you don’t have at a time that the economy is doing well.”