MILWAUKEE (Wisconsin) • Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump has predicted that the United States is on course for a "very massive recession", warning that a combination of high unemployment and an overvalued stock market had set the stage for another economic slump.
"I think we're sitting on an economic bubble. A financial bubble," the billionaire real estate magnate said in an interview with The Washington Post published last Saturday.
Coming off a tough week on the campaign trail in which he made a series of missteps, Mr Trump's latest comments bring him back into the limelight ahead of tomorrow's important primary in Wisconsin where he trails in the polls.
The former reality TV star said the real jobless figure is much higher than the 5 per cent number released by the US Bureau of Labour Statistics.
"We're not at 5 per cent unemployment," Mr Trump said. "We're at a number that's probably into the 20s if you look at the real number," he said, adding that the official jobless figure is "statistically devised to make politicians - and, in particular, presidents - look good".
Mr Trump said "it's a terrible time right now" to invest in the stock market, offering a more bleak view of the US economy than that held by many mainstream economists. He vowed in the interview to wipe out the more than US$19 trillion (S$26 trillion) national debt "over a period of eight years", helped by a renegotiation of trade deals.
Meanwhile, in a rare act of contrition, Mr Trump told The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in a separate interview that he regretted retweeting an unflattering picture of the wife of Mr Ted Cruz, his arch rival for the Republican Party's nomination.
Mr Trump had retweeted a photo compilation of an unflattering shot of Mrs Heidi Cruz next to one of his own wife, Melania, a Slovenian-American jewellery designer and former model, amid a spat with the Texas senator.
"Yeah, it was a mistake," Mr Trump said of the retweet. "If I had to do it again, I wouldn't have sent it."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
US election 2016: More stories online at: http://str.sg/Zjyq