Last week, TBP contributor Invictus posted comments about my pal Larry Kudlow. These comments noted that Larry was not in the recession camp as of December 2007, and currently does not see a double dip coming.

Now, Larry is a big boy, and he sure as hell doesn’t need me to defend him. But a little context goes a long way, and there are two data points worth adding to the mix.

First, on February 12, 2008, Kudlow admitted a mild recession was possible, saying “With as much objectivity as I can muster (yes, I still look at the facts), we are teetering very close to a recession. A case could be made that we are in one right now.”

That was on air, on the record. Off the record, after the show, Larry expressed great concern that profits were starting to rapidly fade.

This led me to create this guide:

The Modern Kudlow To Standard English Translation Guide

Kudlowism Modern Translation
“The Greatest Story Never Told”
Early stages of a normal economic expansion
“Goldilocks Economy”
Latter stages of expansion; cracks
in the façade are beginning to show
“A possibility of Recession exists”
The recession has already begun
“A Mild Recession” We are in a broad and deep recession
“We are in a serious recession” Stock up on canned food,
bottled water and handgun ammo
“I don’t see how this can get any worse” BUY!


Ironically, at the time he said “A possibility of Recession exists,” it was true that the recession has already begun. And when he finally called the recession, it was already broad and deep.

Larry & I have had differing viewpoints on pretty nearly most topics for as long we have known each other. Yes, he is a perennial optimist. And he hates to make negative calls. But I wanted to clarify, as he did eventually come around to the viewpoint of us recessionistas.

Category: Economy, Television

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

54 Responses to “Defending Kudlow”

  1. Why do I suspect this defense will be skewered ?

  2. sysin3 says:

    shish kabob ;-) I’d be happier if Larry didn’t try to sugar-coat for the sheeple. That just screams “shill” to me.

  3. Daffyorbugs says:

    Beautiful! Just like the brokerages. Oh yeh, underweight.

  4. JustinTheSkeptic says:

    Give me a realist like yourself anytime. Krudlow needs to go! Really enjoy the guest he has on; most of them and his format.

  5. scharfy says:

    The Big Picture is my fav.

    Despite what some ranting morons will tell you, this is not a liberal blog.

  6. Purewater says:

    Can you make one of those translation boxes for my wife?

  7. AJB says:

    Fair and balanced without being wishy washy, befitting a blog of the profile that BP has risen to.

  8. DL says:

    I think that Kudlow should be evaluated in different categories. In the category of prognostication, I’d give him a letter grade of “D”. However, he should also be graded in his capacity as a financial journalist; as a moderator of discussions among those who have opposing viewpoints. To do this requires skill and knowledge, particularly when some of the guests are “blowing smoke”, as they often do. In this respect, I think that he has redeeming qualities.

    Those who think he has very little capacity as a financial journalist really should provide names of other FINANCIAL journalists (currently alive, or deceased) who do (or did) a much better job. I actually don’t think the list is all that long.

  9. Marcus Aurelius says:

    Does he have an opinion on whether we’ll win WWII or not?

  10. Mannwich says:

    @DL: Fair enough, but isn’t the term “financial journalist” an oxymoron to begin with? Aren’t you setting the bar a bit low?

  11. PeterR says:

    BR defends Kudlow?

    The top is in IMO.

  12. Sircornflakes says:

    LK, really? C’mon Barry, I read this blog because it’s relevant.

    LK is not.

  13. Invictus says:

    I call BS on you, BR. Kudlow was still proclaiming “no recession” fully three months after the date you cite.

    Kudlow, May 2, 2008:
    So far it’s a non-recession recession. Score one for President Bush.

    Kudlow, May 30, 2008:
    To recoin U.S. News blogger Jimmy Pethokoukis, “No Recession. No Bear Market. Bears Weep.”

    I could go on, but the point is made.

    I will put my public record — at, Bonddad’s blog, and here — up against that money-losing ideologue any time. You gotta be kidding me.

  14. My big issue with Kudlow has always been the parade of really, really bad market analysts and economists he uses. Guests like Luskin, Jerry Bowyers, Art Laffer & David Malpass —

    These are guys that pretty consistently missed the big picture, cost viewers who were silly enough to listen to them huge money, and even worse, did so because they are political hacks…

  15. Invictus says:

    Okay, maybe the point was made, but I’ll continue to make it:

    Kudlow, March 20, 2008:
    The economy isn’t collapsing. And while it may be flat, there’s no deep recession.

    Kudlow, April 30, 2008 (Headline):
    Recession? What Recession?

    Give me a giant freakin’ break here, okay?

  16. Tarkus says:

    Kuddy falls into the ideology category, so if you want your financial news colored that way and you do well by it, that’s fine.
    The only way I see being an ideologue helps is if you are in a position to shovel gov’t contracts to your friends and get their company’s stock price up. May have been tried before…
    As for guests – the similar ideologue numbnuts who get on there think it adds to their credibility. It doesn’t. People like Roubini and Taleb have credibility (doesn’t matter if their timing was a bit off or not – their argument was validated). The others are shills that make their meal-ticket pushing the same old rotten trash, – or trying to resuscitate it now like Frankenstein.
    People on those shows have nothing to lose if you go bust listening to them, so they don’t care what comes out of their mouths.

  17. Invictus says:

    And since my dander’s now up and my panties in a bunch, here’s me on September 16, 2007:

    Clearly the number of civilians unemployed for 15 weeks or longer has troughed and now turned up — as has been the case with regularity in the period immediately preceding recessions (see the larger version of the chart for greater detail).

    And here’s David Rosenberg very shortly thereafter:

    The chart below shows the number of unemployed for more than 15 weeks – a key measure of labor demand and highly cyclical. Now to be sure, employment is a coincident indicator of the economy but this gauge tends to lead – in fact, it leads turning points with perfection. This metric has bottomed and turned higher before every recession in the past with nary a head fake along the way and it troughs, on average, 10 months ahead of recessions (with a range of 5 to 13 months). And when did it hit bottom this time around? Exactly ten months ago.

    Could the recession already be staring us in the face?

  18. DL says:

    Mannwich @ 5:24

    I’m not sure exactly what you’re getting at. The term “financial journalist” is no more of an oxymoron than “political journalist”. There, I would say that Tim Russert was the “gold standard”; Chris Matthews is biased, but highly knowledgeable. One has to get one’s information from somewhere (preferably multiple sources).

  19. par1 says:

    Need another line in your table – “V-shaped recovery” = “Double Dip”.

  20. Jack Damn says:

    Kudlow is a self contained Ponzi scheme.

  21. VennData says:

    Greece had low taxes, lower than they need to pay their promises. Did Larry Kudlow like them?

    In fact Greeks income tax take was only 4.7% of the economy Laffer, Luskin and the rest of the Genghis Khan Youth would love that. Why aren’t they taking about Greece’s great future?

    And China with their high, high income taxes going way back must have really had a bad couple of decades…

    Laffer was going long Greece short China as long ago as 2003, right? Gosh, what a relevant thinker.

  22. foxorrabbit says:

    @ DL: (1) As a moderator, LK also gets a “D”, because of his shameless advocation for whoever is arguing closer to his idealogy. (2) No good financial journalist could get a contract from CNBC management. They knows where their bread gets buttered, so there is no way they’re going to put someone who’s actually a good financial journalist up there. The closest you’re going to get may be David Faber.

    @ VennData: Greece has chosen VAT as its source of tax revenue (now at 21%). So comparing income tax rates is not incredibly relevant.

  23. drey says:

    “Why do I suspect this defense will be skewered ?”

    Because a little voice in your head knows this post is disingenuous.

    Kudlow is not so much a “perennial optimist” as he is a know-nothing, cheerleading shill for the Republican Party.

  24. TakBak04 says:

    PeterR Says:
    June 15th, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    BR defends Kudlow?

    The top is in IMO.


    BR…I do understand “some” of what you say. “Reading Between the Lines of Kudlow” …could allow one to see that he isn’t as “Partisan” as his Persona and his Babes and Shills on there are showing to counteract what “nuggets” he puts forth in his “Supply Side SCREEDS” every night for YEARS!

    I’d give my “Thumbs UP” to “Fast Money’s Melissa Lee’s Producers” who are cueing her On Point for what many of your readers might find much more interesting that that Partisan…Run by Fridmanomics/Libertarians/AEI and Heritage Foundation that one could tune into Fox Network and find blather like that.

    I remember when you used to be a “voice for contrarian views that coincided with my own” on Kudlow’s show in the Mini Box…now the OctaBox.

    You are falling in with “Low Company” if you defend Kudlow who has been wrong if you watch his show …but was “trying to give signals” (to hear your view of him) …and so us clueless should have been watching his show to “parse out his subtle signals” where Kudlow was REALLY trying to work for CNBC Investors to NOT LOSE MONEY…when in fact he was PUMPING THIS MARKET FOR YEARS.


    That above quote was what Kudlow’s viewers have heard since the Great BIG BANK IMPLOSION! And before that he was shilling for Ayn Rand and Friedman!

    Disgusting………….that man!

    Give me the information that “Fast Money” with the incredibly savvy Melissa Lee and her producers have on that show.


  25. fatelephant says:

    Austerity for the people, bailouts for the bankers. Kudlow capitalism. Intellectual honesty is just not his forte.

  26. TakBak04 says:

    Invictus Says:
    June 15th, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    And since my dander’s now up and my panties in a bunch, here’s me on September 16, 2007:

    Clearly the number of civilians unemployed for 15 weeks or longer has troughed and now turned up — as has been the case with regularity in the period immediately preceding recessions (see the larger version of the chart for greater detail).


    What You Say, Invictus….You’re not the only one whose “panties/knickers are in a bunch……….!

  27. Chief Tomahawk says:

    BR, you have served up the red meat…

    The most recent recession begand when Larry removed the comment option from his blog. While there were some “bar room” nitwits posting, there were others making valid points we wanted Larry to address. He should’ve hired an intern to zap the trolls and then just a little time addressing the counterview.

    Second, has “Goldilocks” head been surgically reattached yet? I’m pretty sure that DOW plunge down to 6,800 was akin to a decapitation.

  28. TakBak04 says:

    Marcus Aurelius Says:
    June 15th, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Does he have an opinion on whether we’ll win WWII or not?


    Barry doesn’t have a “ROFL” Icon………but that was definitely a GOOD ONE re: Kudlow!

    I’m thinking that Barry is being kind to Kudlow for some reason he hasn’t yet revealed to us. It might be something about strategy.

    I don’t see all of Barry’s work for years going into defending that Fox News WANNABEE Kudlow.

    I think he’s Baiting because his site has gotten to Partisan Left…and he needs to move more Centrist.

    It’s “Strategic Business Positioning.” Hey…we all gotta do it…”It’s just Bidness” to survive…….

  29. TakBak04 says:

    Barry Ritholtz Says:
    June 15th, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    My big issue with iudlow is the parade of really really bad guests: Luskin & Bowyers & Laffer & Mpass — guys that pretty consistently nissed the big picture, cost viewrs money and did sob for plitical reasons


    That could be a factor…but doesn’t Kudlow have BIG PULL with the Brass at CNBC…so that he can “CHOOSE” his own guests?

    Are you implying that Kudlow is just a “tool” for whatever his producers foist on him? That the AIE and Heritage and CATO don’t have much to do with why Kudlow even HAS a show on CNBC in the First Place?

    That’s my worry with what you say, BR. That Kudlow “should choose better guests…and not that his guests are CHOSEN FOR HIM! Kudlow is a tool….useful for some nuggets but worthless if one is really a “Contrarian” which is what you’ve always encouraged your readers to think about.

    Kudlow’s viewers might be “mindless” wanting “authoritarian/dictatorial views” of how to invest. Like “Fox News” promotes.

    But, people bought your book and come to your site for “less partisan” information. IMHO……..

  30. Invictus says:

    And since I’m still steamed, herewith a couple more pieces of evidence, courtesy of my buddy New Deal Democrat (NDD) from Bonddad’s place:

    Kudlow, August 4, 2008 — that’s AUGUST 4, 2008:
    Right now the recession call is still an open question.

    And these are from NDD without citation:

    “If the economy is in recession, why are business durable-goods
    orders and shipments booming?” Kudlow asked on July 25.

    “With the U.S. dollar up and oil down and businesses investing, I
    think (the) Goldilocks (economy) is back in business.”
    - Larry Kudlow, Aug. 28, 2008 on CNBC’s “Kudlow & Company”

    I’m more than a bit peeved.

  31. TakBak04 says:


    And those quotes are miniscule compared to the incredible body of BAD/Hideous Investment Advice that Kudlow has given over the years!

    I would hope that most of BR’s Readers would have put Kudlow & Company and his Day Show with the Babes on Ignore…when the Financials Implosion showed what he was about.

    He wants Ronald Reagan on the US Currency….he never stops shilling for Reagan on Mt. Rushmore and carved into every body on the planet…as “St. Ronnie” was the savior and it’s only since he died that the US ECONOMY has FALLEN INTO RUIN!

    The only reason he survives is because folks think they might be seeing some light in the dark Friedman/Rand Tunnels through is brain and for that he survives with some creds for the hopeful..

  32. zell says:

    Ugh! B.R.- please. Loyalty to a friend is commendable to a point. King Dollar Kudlow is a propagandist. Just read on Z.H. that Booyah boy has told folks to bail on the markets. Larry must be in the E.R..

  33. Larry has always been a gentleman to me.

    And he has been a behind-the-scene advocate for me with the CNBC brass on many of the occasions when I have been on their shit list for some truth telling offense or an0other.

  34. Cynic_FA says:

    Kudlow and the economy. I think you are too hard on Kudlow. probably 80% of PHD economists and 95% of brokerage firms missed that recession and the bear market. Heck, the brokerage firms were choking on their own mortgage crap and still could not put out a sell recommendation on all the other zombie banks.

    Kudlow does have great taste in reading. See his May 15, 2008 blog:

    He had Barry Ritholtz on the show and had this to say about BR and the chance for a recession: “Barry has been predicting recession for nearly two years. And while he hasn’t been exactly right, he hasn’t been exactly wrong either.” Since Kudlow took both sides of that bet, he cannot be wrong by definition, at least not exactly!

    Kudlow also said:
    “Mr. Ritholtz is a political moderate – probably a moderate Republican when it gets right down to it. He is a capitalist. He is not a supply-sider. But he is a very smart, good-natured, good guy. For those in the political world, interested in following the hot topics debate in the financial world, you can do no better than reading his Big Picture blog. I read it everyday. ”

    Proof that Kudlow really likes BR. LK had to project moderate Republican( not my guess) so as to allow BR into the friendship circle

  35. Transor Z says:

    I usually watch the all-vuvuzela channel instead of CNBC. Don’t miss the hemi-octobox at :50.

  36. peachin says:

    At the parting of Kudlow and Cramer – Cramer became an enigma, at best – Kudlow became irrelevant. He has been irrelevant longer than his friends will acknowledge – they patronize him – how embarrassing for both.

    But let us not digress – as we leave CNBC in “the faint” we all acknowledge how Bloomberg Radio has become the shining star – void of both Kudlow and Cramer….

    CNBC, Kudlow and Cramer – R.I.P.

  37. JG says:

    We don’t know each other but we are both ex-TSCM guys…

    Thanks for defending Kudlow…he is a true gentleman and a real inspiration given his remarkable comeback…

    Our shop loves the BP and have been reading you religiously for years now…

  38. philipat says:

    He’s so great. He deserves a promotion to Fox where I’m sure he will be happier anyway. And we can safely avoid him.

  39. CrispE says:


    Defending Larry Kudlow??! Can Ben Stein be far behind?

    Kudlow, like many of his “ilk” have been consistently wrong, lost people large sums of money and deserve to be giving advice to no one. His wrongness is only exceeded by his lack of humility about how many times he was wrong.

    Say….how about some kind words about Abby Cohen? Only wrong 10 times out of 1o folks, lets be more sympathetic?

    Don’t think so…

  40. logline says:

    Barry! How could you!?!? This is only my 2nd post in as many years following you and my first post was about you kissing Larry Kudlow’s ass! (go ahead and search my name) Haven’t you learned to stop bowing to people who LIE? Yes, “lie” because there is no way on earth even an idealogue as nutty as LK could believe his own BS. He even delivers it daily with that telltale smirk of his. You’re starting to lose credibility with me, man. Just take the briefest of glances at Invictus’ supporting links in this thread to see how WRONG you are. Start telling MORE truth and getting into MORE trouble with cnbc execs if you have to. Show a little more balls like your friend Ratigan and call a spade a spade.

  41. Investradamus says:


    You catch Cramer’s 10min rant against today’s rally calling it “stupid, rapacious, arbitrary, capricious and downright ridiculous” telling everyone to get out?

    Does that mean we should buy?

  42. Peter Davies says:

    I don’t care what a great guy Kudlow might be off-camera, it’s his on-camera performance that bothers me. He presents himself as a purveyor of good investment advice yet to follow his so called “advice” is a recipe for bankruptcy. A good advisor, among other things, is a realist not an optimist and definitely not an ideologue, whether from the left or right. Maybe there’s a place on TV for a ranting right wing nuts. If so, put Kudlow on FOX with the rest of his ilk. I was particularly pleased to see Mandy Drury and Kate Kelly joined CNBC. Both are very competent financial journalists and a welcome shift from CNBC’s tendency to hire women based on their “eye-candy” ratings than their knowledge and abilities. However, it’s particularly galling to see the assignment of Drury to be part of Kudlow’s cheering eye-candy chorus while Francis is on maternity leave. If CNBC absolutely needs a Kudlow type to compete with FOX in the “right wing nut” category, then I would suggest that Drury be reassigned as soon as Francis returns to pair up again with Regan as part of Kudlow’s cheering chorus. Then rename the program the “Nut and Candy Show”. Viewers would have a more honest idea as to what is being offered and can tune in or out as they see fit. A better option would be to give Kudlow the heave-ho altogether and replace with a show hosted by Michelle Caruso-Cabrero. She’s the sort of pragmatic libertarian I admire, as well as being smart, articulate and personable.

  43. Carse says:

    Very clever, you made me laugh, thanks!

  44. Carse says:

    Francis went on maternal leave. This is good news, I was wondering where that “ranting right wing nut” went. I was beginning to mis her point of views and her Harvard accent.

    To tell you the truth, I loved it when she beat the crap out of that ranting liberal nut on the noon lunch break. Really made the best lunch break to date. I am not going name, names for obvious reasons.

  45. Dennis says:

    I think BR is trying to be as nice as he can to Larry, without actually defending Kudlow’s track record.

    Wasn’t Kudlow the first guy who put you on CNBC ? What other favors has he done for you, despite you being politically and economically the polar opposite of him? Haven’t you two disagreed about everything?

    Your first comment shows you knew you were going to get slaughtered over this post; but you posted it anyway. That shows loyalty to someone who has been kind to you, and you have more than repaid this debt.

    Kudos. Now go on his show and kick his ass some more.

  46. Chad says:

    You are a NEO-CON BARRY! Showing your true Red State stripes here. Next you will be advocating we invade France, all live in South Carolina, and force everyone to go to church.

    I’m kidding of course. Just using this to show how silly the “You are a DAMEND LIBERAL BARRY” comments are just because Barry happened to agree with something on the liberal side.

  47. Tarkus says:

    The biggest problem with all these shows is that it functions on the Wall St model that there is no responsibility whatsoever for anything they say. Reporting news in one thing, but Kudlow is an op-ed, like O’Reilly and Hannity on Fox. If Ma and Pa Mid-America take their “advice” and have to eat dog-food for the rest of their lives, what do these mo-mo’s care? So they spew whatever crap will fill the minutes allotted them, collect their paychecks, and are on their merry way.

    Perhaps if they actually stopped to consider the damage they might be doing to some of their viewers, they would be more circumspect in their “advice”. But as they are “self-regulated”, maybe not.

  48. rktbrkr says:

    Greenshoots? Any measurement of economic activity with a positive spin. For example unemployment rises from 9% to 10% is “contrary to what the bears are saying 9 out of 10 Americans are gainfully employed”.

    I really enjoyed the period when the market was tanking and LK was bashing Obama and then his silence when the market started rebounding shortly after O’B’s rah-rah speech about stocks.

  49. rktbrkr says:

    I always thought LK was horrendous with his interviews cutting short anyone who disagreed with him and singing duets with the right thinkers. I don’t know how many times Gary Shilling would chuckle and say “Larry, if you’d only give me a chance to answer”.

    His economic predictions and interpretations are subzero.

  50. Forbes says:

    kudlow sept 8, 2008 (pre Lehman)

    Forget about Lehman that’s looking in the rear view mirror, BUY BANKS!!

  51. ToNYC says:

    LK repeatedly rants about free market capitalism is the best way to prosperity; yet all we have now is government-sponsored corporatism large and in charge. As if, he pretends, (im)portending nothing. Let’s not fail to remember LK was a nice guy Reagan-shill; Reagan who ginned up the drug war and invented the crack explosion in LA to feed the Contras in Nicaragua and make his modern day Opium War real. This continues to this day and in 1982 we had 300K incarcerated in maybe 8 million mostly because they couldn’t say no to what whitey in the suburbs kept paying up for.

  52. Doug A says:

    The problem with Kudlow is not that he is an optimist, everyone already knows that and takes it into acount when considering his comments. Nor is it the fact that he adheres to a different brand of economics than I. He is far from alone. The biggest problem with Kudlow is the quote you used to defend him. On the air, he says one thing, off the air, another. Please tell your friend Larry that we are tough, that we can take it. Don’t sugar coat it; don’t beat around the bush, just give it to us straight. If you’re concerned about profits fading, don’t save that opinion for the crew.

  53. Peter Davies says:

    Congrats Forbes. You provided a perfect example of the harmful rubbish that Kudlow and some of his toadies like Luskin regularly serve up. I’m sure that a number of viewers invested money on this forcefully presented but ridiculous advice and subsequently lost heavily. CNBC, Kudlow, et al were of course well protected by well crafted legal disclaimers. Disgusting!