Limits to trickle-down: Trump's tax-cut "boom" fizzles

Trump's multi-trillion-dollar giveaway to the richest Americans and largest US corporations led to a rise in GDP, but it was a short-lived sugar-high: the major effect was a trillion dollars in stock buybacks that padded the bottom lines of super-rich investors who barely touch the real economy (you can only own so many super-yachts and operating costs are funneled through offshore flags-of-convenience anyway).

But investment in "factories, software and new equipment" only rose modestly for a single quarter, and has now fallen again.

"There hasn't been a huge surge in response to tax reform," said Eric Zwick, a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business who studies the interaction between public policy and corporate behavior.

Real nonresidential fixed investment increased by just 2.5% in the third quarter, a sharp slowdown compared to 8.7% in the second quarter and 11.5% in the first quarter.

It's not that business spending is weak. It's just not booming.

"It now appears the investment recovery was short-lived," Ethan Harris, global economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, wrote in a report last week titled, "The investment boom that wasn't."

The tax cut investment 'boom' is already over. Some say it never really started [Matt Egan/CNN]