Are Trump Tweets Backed Up by Data?

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I chose an article on the New York Times named The Markets Are Up, Unemployment is Down. How Much Credit Should Trump Get? In this article, writers Alicia Parlapiano, Nelson D. Schwarts, and Karen Yourish offer data from Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis to investigate whether the information that the current United States president Donald Trump provides on his tweets is accurate or not.

The Stock Market
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of the stocks of 30 large American publicly traded companies. *Some of the current 30 stocks include American Express, Apple, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, Intel, Microsoft, Nike, Visa, and Walt Disney.* Trump`s tweet expresses that the United States is experiencing the “Highest Stock Market EVER,” which is not necessarily wrong. As the previous graph indicates, the stock market has maintained an overall growth since the financial crisis of 2008. The new trend of Gig Economy (leaning towards hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees), the creation of new products in the tech industry, and a steady profit from companies such as S&P are fueling the rise of stock prices. How much can Donald Trump take credit for in this aspect is unclear.

Unemployment Rates
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In July of this year, the unemployment rate reached a low 4.3%─ the lowest it has been since 2001. However, it is important to notice in the graph that “nearly all of that drop occurred on the watch of his predecessor, Barack Obama.” In January when Obama left office, the unemployment rate was already at 4.8%. Again, we can see that Donald Trump`s tweet is not incorrect; it just paints an incomplete picture. It is also worth to mention that, during his campaign, he continuously stated that government agencies and mainstream economists were presenting fake numbers of unemployment rates. At one point in his campaign, he said that the real unemployment rate was “not some number below 5 percent widely cited by economists, but something like 42 percent.”

Gross Domestic Product

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The gross domestic product (GDP) is “one of the primary indicators used to [measure] the health of a country`s economy.” Usually, it is expressed by a comparison to the previous year as the annual growth rate. United States` economy “has grown 2.6 percent or more in 81 of the 145 quarters [since 1981], including 14 times during the Obama administration.” On July 28, Donald Trump stated that the annual rate of 2.6% growth was an “unbelievable number” for the second quarter of the year.

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Trump tweeted an inflated figure. So either he does know that 2.6% is not an extraordinary quarterly growth rate and is trying to inflate this number by rounding it up, or he ran out of his 140 tweeter characters. I would like to dismiss this second option because his tweet contains 135 characters, I counted.

My problem with these two tweets by Donald Trump is that the information they present blur the context of the data. We have been discussing in class about how in Big Data, it is necessary to have that human component, one that seeks to explain the context and relationships around the data in a reasonable way. I think this is an element missing in many of Donald Trump`s tweets. My question, “Are Trump tweets backed up by data?” has a yes and no component to it. Yes, if we ignore all the antecedents of how these numbers came to be and basic significant figures rules, then we could actually say that the stock market is up, the unemployment rates are down, and the GDP is at 3%. And no, it is unethical no present information as factual when there is so much context missing and numbers are being inflated. Twitter is a prominent social platform that many use as a source of information. The president of the United States should be a “trustworthy” source; is he being completely honest about the information he presents? Let`s remember that ignorance is as much of a construct as knowledge is, and that a person who has a vast amount of resources and advising like Donald Trump does should be hold more accountable to the fabrications they present as truth.

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