In early April, Jason Furman, a top economist in the Obama administration and now a professor at Harvard, was speaking via Zoom to a large bipartisan group of top officials from both parties. The economy had just been shut down, unemployment was spiking, and some policymakers were predicting an era worse than the Great Depression. The economic carnage seemed likely to doom President Donald Trump’s chances at reelection.
Furman, tapped to give the opening presentation, looked into his screen of poorly lit boxes of frightened wonks and made a startling claim.
“We are about to see the best economic data we’ve seen in the history of this country,” he said.
The former cabinet secretaries and Federal Reserve chairs in the Zoom boxes were confused, though some of the Republicans may have been newly relieved and some of the Democrats suddenly concerned.