Trump breaks the law and jolts markets by teasing secret jobs numbers
President Donald Trump moved markets and busted norms on Friday morning with a tweet about the May employment report more than an hour before the numbers came out.
The post appeared to skirt strict rules on government employees not commenting on the highly sensitive economic data until an hour after its public release at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
Trump, who received the numbers Thursday night on Air Force One, did not include any of the jobs data in his tweet. But it appeared positive enough to suggest to Wall Street that a good number was coming Friday morning.
“Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning,” the president tweeted at 7:21 a.m.
And the numbers were in fact quite good, showing a better than expected gain of 223,000 jobs and a dip in unemployment to 3.8 percent, the lowest level since April of 2000, sending Dow futures higher.
But markets were already moving before the release and popped immediately after Trump’s tweet, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note moving higher along with stock market futures. The rise in the 10-year yield suggested traders assumed Trump’s tweet meant the jobs number would be strong and push the Fed to raise interest rates more quickly.
Former Obama administration officials pounced on Trump’s tweet even before the public got to see the numbers, saying it violated rules banning federal employees with access to the jobs data from saying anything at all about it until 9:30 a.m. Eastern time.
The one-hour lag is meant to allow the jobs data—compiled by non-partisan career employees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics—to stand on its own without any immediate spin from elected officials.
“We took the one-hour delay 100 percent seriously,” Jason Furman, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, said in an interview. “There were times when there was a good number and they wanted to send the president out to talk about it, but Air Force One was scheduled to leave at 9:15 a.m. and we would tell them to delay the flight until after 9:30 a.m.”
Furman suggested Trump should no longer get the numbers in advance.