Americans Have Little Confidence in Biden Economic Team: Gallup Poll

The drop in confidence in Powell marks the lowest grade for any central bank chief since Gallup began polling on the issue in 2001.

Treasury Secretary Yellen, left, and Federal Reserve Chairman Powell. AP

After two years of stubbornly high inflation and with recessionary signals looming, Americans are telling pollsters that they have all but given up hope that President Biden and his principal economic advisors — or political leaders in Congress from both parties, for that matter — are capable of stewarding the country’s economy out of its current malaise. 

A new poll out from Gallup Tuesday suggests that nearly half of Americans have almost no confidence in Mr. Biden, and even fewer expressed confidence in the treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, and the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell. Between 34 percent and 38 percent of Americans expressed a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of confidence in Mr. Biden’s economic team.

The drop in confidence in Mr. Powell in the last year — to 36 percent from 43 percent in 2022 — has been particularly precipitous, and marks the lowest grade for any central bank chief since Gallup began polling on the issue in 2001. Two years ago, in 2021, 55 percent of Americans expressed confidence in Mr. Powell.

“Americans’ growing concern about the economy is manifested in their views of the key government officials responsible for economic policy,” Gallup says. “None of these leaders engenders much confidence now, and Americans have similarly low confidence levels in each.”

“If the economy falls into a recession later this year, confidence in political leaders may erode further,” the pollster warned.

The data come one day before the Department of Labor releases its monthly report on April’s Consumer Price Index. Analysts at the Fed are expecting the report, due out at 8:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday, to show the annual rate of inflation holding steady at about 5 percent, far above the Fed’s target rate of 2 percent.

At its last meeting, the Fed, after hiking interest rates by a quarter point to the highest rate in 16 years, hinted that it was prepared to pause those hikes at its June meeting, but a stronger-than-expected inflation showing Wednesday may temper any desire by the central bankers to ease off. Its hikes over the past 14 months have caused mortgage interest rates to double and elevated the rates for auto loans and credit card borrowing for millions of Americans.

In its annual Economic and Personal Finance Survey, Gallup notes that it is common for Americans’ attitudes toward the country’s economic leaders to rise and fall with the health of the economy and may improve if Mr. Powell manages to avoid a recession, a prospect more and more economists see as unlikely. GDP growth in the first quarter of this year rose at a tepid 1.1 percent annual rate.

The confidence in Mr. Biden’s stewardship of the economy is now at the lowest rating of his presidency, and mirrors that of his overall approval ratings. Two years ago, 57 percent expressed confidence in the president; now, the figure is 35 percent, nearly matching the low for President George W. Bush in 2008 at the height of the so-called Great Recession.

Some 37 percent of the 1,013 people who responded to the survey between April 3 and April 25 said that they had confidence in Ms. Yellen. Two years ago, 54 percent of Americans expressed confidence in her. Gallup said this year marks the first time that the president’s economic team has polled below 40 percent in the same year since it began conducting the survey in 2001.

Confidence in Democratic members of Congress to deal with the economy declined to 34 percent in 2023 from 38 percent in 2022, and confidence in Republicans declined to 38 percent from 40 percent. Predictably, Democratic voters expressed more confidence in the president and his team than did Republicans.

The New York Sun

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