Despite his record, Kudlow offers new coronavirus assessments

Kudlow's pattern of painfully wrong coronavirus predictions should lead him to scale back his pandemic-related rhetoric. And yet, he keeps talking.
Image: National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow Holds Press Briefing On G7 Summit In Canada
White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow holds a news briefing about the upcoming G7 meetings in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House June 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kudlow said President Donald Trump's focus at the meetings will be on trade and mutual security among members of the G7.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
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By Steve Benen

Larry Kudlow, the director of the White House National Economic Council, appeared on Fox News this morning and downplayed the possibility of a second coronavirus wave.

"Look, I'm not the health expert, but on the so-called spike, I spoke to our health experts at some length last evening. They're saying there is no second spike. Let me repeat that: There is no second spike.... There is no emergency. There is no second wave. I don't know where that got started on Wall Street."

Of course, while Kudlow downplays the possibility of a public-health "emergency," there's ample evidence that coronavirus cases are increasing in roughly half the states -- with some states showing significant spikes.

And while everyone can certainly hope that the White House's top economic voice is correct, at face value, it's hard not to be skeptical of Kudlow's reassurances -- especially given recent history.

For example, it's hard to forget that Kudlow -- who has a notorious track record for being wrong -- appeared on CNBC in early March and said, in reference to the coronavirus, "[R]egarding the containment issue, I will still argue to you that this is contained.... We don't actually know what the magnitude of the virus is going to be. Although, frankly, so far it looks relatively contained."

In the same interview, he added that the economy "looks sound," which was vaguely reminiscent of John McCain insisting in 2008 that the "fundamentals of the economy are strong," even as the system crashed around him.

A week earlier, Kudlow boasted on CNBC, "We have contained this. I won't say airtight, but it's pretty close to airtight." He added that the public-health emergency was not likely to become an "economic tragedy."

Donald Trump soon after rewarded Kudlow with a spot on the White House Coronavirus Taskforce -- back before the president allowed the taskforce to wither on the vine.

Common sense suggests Kudlow's pattern of painfully wrong coronavirus predictions should lead him to scale back his pandemic-related rhetoric. And yet, there he was, telling a national television audience this morning that there's no reason at all to be concerned about a second wave.

The on-air comments were probably intended to be reassuring. But given Kudlow's track record, I found myself feeling quite a bit worse.