Which party does a better job at managing the economy? My thoughts (long)

(Guys and gals, this is long.)

The genesis of this thread was a post I made in response to @d_anconia going into the topic of historical GOP incompetence in economic matters. It was kind of a throw-away comment, but it did spark the question: More than 150 years since the USA became a 2-party nation, what evidence exists to show if one party is better on economic matters than the other? And instead of being an asshoe and making you read through ~2,400 words, I’ll just tell you from the beginning.

The mythology of Republicans being the party which is better in economic matters is, and always has been, hogwash. It wasn’t true in 1873, it wasn’t true in 1929, it definitely wasn’t true in 2008, and it’s not true now. There are a number of ways one can look at this – here are three I’ve thought of, I’m sure there are others.

1. Republican administrations cause wild swings in the Dow

This isn’t really “proof”, but it’s suggestive to the larger argument made.

Largest drops in the DJIA, by %

Rank Date Closing Dow $ dropped (nominal) % Dropped Administration Party Event
1 10/19/1987 $1,738.74 −508.00 −22.61 Reagan R ?
2 3/16/2020 $20,188.52 −2,997.10 −12.93 Trump R COVID
3 10/28/1929 $260.64 −38.33 −12.82 Hoover R GD
4 10/29/1929 $230.07 −30.57 −11.73 Hoover R GD
5 3/12/2020 $21,200.62 −2,352.60 −9.99 Trump R COVID
6 11/6/1929 $232.13 −25.55 −9.92 Hoover R GD
7 12/18/1899 $58.27 −5.57 −8.72 McKinley R ?
8 8/12/1932 $63.11 −5.79 −8.40 Hoover R GD
9 3/14/1907 $76.23 −6.89 −8.29 Trump R JP Morgan
10 10/26/1987 $1,793.93 −156.83 −8.04 Reagan R ?
11 10/15/2008 $8,577.91 −733.08 −7.87 Bush 2 R GR
12 7/21/1933 $88.71 −7.55 −7.84 FDR D GD
13 3/9/2020 $23,851.02 −2,013.76 −7.79 Trump R COVID
14 10/18/1937 $125.73 −10.57 −7.75 FDR D GD
15 12/1/2008 $8,149.09 −679.95 −7.70 Bush 2 R GR
16 10/9/2008 $8,579.19 −678.92 −7.33 Bush 2 R GR
17 2/1/1917 $88.52 −6.91 −7.24 Wilson D WW1
18 10/27/1997 $7,161.14 −554.26 −7.18 Clinton D LTCM
19 10/5/1932 $66.07 −5.09 −7.15 Hoover R GD
20 9/17/2001 $8,920.70 −684.81 −7.13 Bush 2 R 9/11

Cumulative by Party

Republicans 16
Democrats 4

Largest gains in the DJIA, by %

Rank Date Closing Dow $ gained (nominal) % Gained Administration Party Event
1 3/15/1933 $62.10 8.26 15.34 FDR D GD
2 10/6/1931 $99.34 12.86 14.87 Hoover R GD
3 10/30/1929 $258.47 28.4 12.34 Hoover R GD
4 3/24/2020 $20,704.91 2,112.98 11.37 Trump R COVID
5 9/21/1932 $75.16 7.67 11.36 Hoover R GD
6 10/13/2008 $9,387.61 936.42 11.08 Bush 2 R GR
7 10/28/2008 $9,065.12 889.35 10.88 Bush 2 R GR
8 10/21/1987 $2,027.85 186.84 10.15 Reagan R ?
9 8/3/1932 $58.22 5.06 9.52 Hoover R GD
10 2/11/1932 $78.60 6.8 9.47 Hoover R GD
11 3/13/2020 $23,185.62 1,985.00 9.36 Trump R COVID
12 11/14/1929 $217.28 18.59 9.36 Hoover R GD
13 12/18/1931 $80.69 6.9 9.35 Hoover R GD
14 2/13/1932 $85.82 7.22 9.19 Hoover R GD
15 5/6/1932 $59.01 4.91 9.08 Hoover R GD
16 4/19/1933 $68.31 5.66 9.03 FDR D GD
17 10/8/1931 $105.79 8.47 8.7 Hoover R GD
18 6/10/1932 $48.94 3.62 7.99 Hoover R GD
19 4/6/2020 $22,679.99 1,627.46 7.73 Trump R COVID
20 9/5/1939 $148.12 10.03 7.26 FDR D GD

Cumulative by Party

Republicans 17
Democrats 3

OK, so the above is interesting but it’s not very telling. Of the 40 swings represented, a full 21 came in the Great Depression (16 Hoover, 5 FDR), 6 during COVID, and 5 for the Great Recession, with the remaining being one-time shocks (Long Term Capital Management), unknown (haven’t really looked into the causes of 1987, sorry), or miscellaneous.

At the best… for the argument of “which party is better for the economy", that is… the above shows that markets become more volatile during Republican administrations than Democratic administrations, and these volatility events are, in fact, correlated with economic disasters which occurred under Republican Administrations… but it doesn’t really prove that the Republicans suck at economics. I mean, it could all just be bad timing, right? It wasn’t Hoover’s fault he was sworn into office 6 months before the Depression started, right?

Right?

2. Historical Review of post Civil War Recessions and Depressions

So I looked to the question: Well, who was in charge when we had past recessions and depressions? This may give us a clearer picture as to which party is better at managing the overall economy.

There have been 32 recessions and depressions since the end of the Civil War, the true start of the two-party system.

By correlating the list of recessions/depressions to political control of the House, Senate, and Presidency we find that, yes, the Republicans tend to do greater damage to the economy, with the more branches (House, Senate, Presidency) controlled by the Republicans, the worse the damage is.

Recessions/Depressions occurring when the party controls:

  • House – 16 Dems, 16 Repubs
  • Senate – 13 Dems, 19 Repubs
  • Presidency – 13 Dems, 19 Repubs

19 recessions occurred when the Republicans held the White House and 13 for the Dems, which is nice to know… but not very useful. Just viewing the raw tallies above, it seems that the parties are relatively equal.

But let’s dig a little deeper, shall we? Let’s see what happens when 1 party controls all three branches. First, the Dems:

Economic Downturns when Democrats controlled all three branches of government

Recession/Depression # Years One Party Control Dates Event
Post-World War I recession 5 Aug 1918 – 3/1/1919 End of WW1
Recession of 1937–1938 5 May 1937–June 1938
Post-World War II recession 12 Feb 1945–Oct 1945 End of WW2
Recession of 1969–70 9 Dec 1969–Nov 1970
1980 recession 4 Jan 1980–July 1980

5 Recessions when the Dems controlled all three branches. 2 of these occurred at the end of World Wars. The Recession of 1937-38 is easily the worst of the three remaining. However, the traditional narrative is not favorable to the conservative philosophy of economic management: this recession was caused by FDR cutting back on the New Deal at the same time the Fed tightened the money supply. For advocates of austerity and small governance both, the 1937 recession offers little comfort.

The recession of 1969 came after 8 years of Democratic combined rule, and lasted a full 6 months.

The recession of 1980 came after 4 years of Democratic combined rule and can fairly be placed on the shoulders of Jimmy Carter and the Democrats.

So… how about the Republicans?

Economic Downturns when Republicans controlled all three branches of government

Recession/Depression # Years One Party Control Dates Event
Panic of 1873 and the Long Depression 4 Oct 1873 – Mar 1879
1882–85 recession 2 Mar 1882 – May 1885
1890–91 recession 2 July 1890 – May 1891
1899–1900 recession 3 June 1899 – 12/1/1900
1902–04 recession 6 Sep 1902 –Aug 1904
Panic of 1907 10 May 1907 – 6/1/1908
Panic of 1910–1911 13 Jan 1910 – 1/1/1912
1923–24 recession 3 May 1923 – 6/1/1924
1926–27 recession 6 Oct 1926 – 11/1/1927
Great Depression 9 Aug 1929–Mar 1933

10 recessions when the Republicans control all three branches. Ten. And they’re not just run of the mill “business cycle” or “The Democrats just won America another World War, so lets demobilize” recessions: The Republicans can claim full credit for three of the most important economic collapses of the post Civil War era, AND the two biggest collapses of our lifetimes (one of which may still end up being the Bigliest, Hugest Depression of all time):

  • The Long Depression of 1873, which lasted for 5 full years. When this occurred, the Republicans have held all three branches for 4 years.

  • The Panic of 1907, coming after 10 years of Republican control of all three branches*, so bad it led to the creation of the Federal Reserve and the formal repudiation of the Andrew Johnson anti-national bank ethos.

  • The Great Depression. The Republicans had 9 straight years of three-branch rule, starting in 1921, and they kept it until the 1933 transition to FDR. They had 9 years to prevent it, 3 years to fix it. They failed at both.

Since we all lived through it (assuming no 11-year olds are reading these words), the Great Recession had D’s controlling the House and Senate and R’s in the White House from 2007-09, with the previous four years… 2003-2006… it was R’s across the board. To be fair, however, the GR was a result of some decisions made in the Clinton administration, particularly the deregulation of Wall Street including the repeal of Glass-Steagal, the creation of Citibank, and allowing Phil and Wendy Gramm to ram through the deregulation of derivatives.

And to the current situation: Guys, it’s feeling a lot like late ’29, early ’30 here – people are trying to convince themselves it’s not as bad as it is, the Feds have been pumping up the stock market to help maintain that illusion – but October is getting nearer, and the months of Fall seem to be some sort of witching hour for the US markets. (In the above market volatility lists, 18 of 40 events took place in September-October, 15 in October alone. But I digress…)

Regardless, for the COVIDepression, the R’s held the Senate since 2015, the Presidency since 2017, and the house from 2011-2019 with the D’s controlling the House 2019-2020. And I hope I don’t have to waste any time arguing that the House is not the cause of the current economic collapse.

So, for those of you keeping score at home, if we take the five recessions listed above, add up control of the House/Senate/Presidency for the five years prior to the start date of each of these events (a total of 25 years):

Control of the Federal government, 5 years prior to 5 greatest recessions, cumulative years
Branch Dems Reps
Presidency 4 21
Senate 2 23
House 3 22

(Here are the Democratic exceptions:

House: 2007-2008, 2019-2020

Senate: 2007-2008

Presidency: Obama, 2015-2016 & Johnson, 1868)

This is more telling than looking at Dow fluctuations but it is still mostly correlative, not causative. I mean, it’s a nice debate point to say “For the nations 5 most severe economic setbacks, the Republicans overwhelmingly controlled the government for the 5 years prior to each of them”, but it’s still not conclusive.

Perhaps if there was a way to look at this via financial metrics, rather than historical trends… but before we depart this topic, a footnote for that asterisk above:

*A list of those recessions occurring before 1907 include: 1899-1900 and 1904, which meant the American people kept giving the Republicans control of the government even though they kept crashing the economy. This run of Republican incompetence also includes the 1910-11 recession, giving the GOP 4 financial collapses in a mere 15 years of combined rule. Ladies and gentlemen, the economic prowess of the GOP!

3. National Net Worth and Presidential Admnistrations

The question remains: Are there ways to prove that one party is better for the country, using financial metrics, than the other?

To answer this, I turned to the Federal Reserve’s Z1 report – Financial Accounts of the United States which seeks to measure the country’s Net Worth, specifically section B.1. Derivation of U.S. Net Wealth.

This report, run since the end of WW2, adds the human, plant, and financial capital of the three major economic sectors (consumers, corporate, government), subtracts the liabilities, to come up with a value of the net worth of the country. In short: Net Wealth = (Assets – Debt).

Following is a screenshot of the past few years from the website above. The rest of this topic will focus on Line 1:

Google Photos

I downloaded the entire data set, correlated it to Presidential Administrations, adjusted for inflation (June 2020 as my base year, using CPI Inflation Calculator for the calculations), then calculated the Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of the nation’s wealth for every admin (using Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) Calculator). And when I ranked Presidential Administrations by their ability to grow actual [b]wealth[/i], here is what happened:

Rank President CAGR Party Years
1 Clinton 5.3020% D 8
2 Johnson 5.1410% D 5
3 Eisenhower 4.7460% R 8
4 Kennedy 4.4650% D 3
5 Obama 3.9470% D 8
6 Ford 3.4960% R 2
7 Reagan 2.9660% R 8
8 Carter 2.4680% D 4
9 Truman 2.2880% D 6
10 Nixon 1.2840% R 6
11 Trump 0.5710% R 3
12 Bush 2 0.5360% R 8
13 Bush 1 0.3800% R 4
Party Average CAGR
D 3.93517%
R 1.99700%
Average 2.89154%

In ranking the CAGR of National Net Wealth growth of the 13 post-WW2 presidential administrations, we find the 6 Democratic administrations held the top nine slots, while not a singe Nixon-era Republican or later ranked any higher than 6th… with supposed Economic God Ronald Reagan a middlin’ seventh, sandwiched between Ford and Carter. In addition, the Republicans hold the bottom four slots, including the current clown in the White House.

By party, the difference is even more stark: From 1945-Q1 2020, when a Democrat is the President National Wealth Compunded Annual Growth Rate is nearly double than when a Republican is President, 3.935% vs 1.997%.

The original tables are in nominal values, so there isn’t a lot you can do with them (and I’m not converting all ~300 cells to adjusted values (4 quarters per year, 70+ years)), but it is interesting to look at the top-10 gains and losses in National Net Wealth by quarter:

Top 10 Quarterly Gains in National Net Wealth, nominal:

Ranking YearQuarter $ (in billions) Change from Previous Period President
1 2019Q1 $99,055,394 $5,203,405 Trump
2 1999Q4 $44,543,626 $3,591,171 Clinton ($5.5 Trillion equivalent)
3 2019Q4 $105,082,034 $3,435,594 Trump
4 2004Q4 $58,880,247 $3,101,212 Bush 2
5 2017Q4 $95,391,902 $3,006,736 Trump
6 2013Q3 $72,185,817 $2,904,672 Obama
7 2013Q1 $68,134,563 $2,808,637 Obama
8 2017Q1 $88,069,891 $2,722,374 Trump
9 1998Q4 $38,891,060 $2,580,030 Clinton
10 2003Q4 $51,560,797 $2,563,742 Bush 2

See that Clinton @ #2? Adjusted for inflation, it comes to $5.5 trillion, a truly massive gain. And, yes, Trump is well-represented in this list, with wealth gains of $16 trillion.

However, Trump is also well-represented on bottom 10 list:

Ranking YearQuarter $ (in billions) Change from Previous Period President
279 2020Q1 $95,168,881 ($9,913,153) Trump
278 2008Q4 $58,515,990 ($5,153,385) Bush 2
277 2018Q4 $93,851,989 ($4,997,250) Trump
276 2011Q3 $59,407,051 ($4,202,910) Obama
275 2008Q3 $63,669,375 ($3,547,869) Bush 2
274 2008Q1 $68,853,781 ($3,167,045) Bush 2
273 2009Q1 $56,181,252 ($2,334,738) Obama
272 2015Q3 $78,753,592 ($2,118,407) Obama
271 2001Q3 $44,085,845 ($1,965,675) Bush 2
270 2010Q2 $58,616,173 ($1,848,421) Obama

The $15 trillion of losses over just 2 quarters (making Trump #1 and #3 on the above list) wiped out the above gains… which is a common occurrence among Republican Presidents. Not even that bizarre 2011Q3 loss of $4 trillion (anyone remember what happened then?) prevented Obama from gaining 3.947% CAGR in Net Wealth over the span of his administration. But Trump is at a measly .005%, which truly sucks. And it’s only going to get worse – the September 21st, 2020 release of the Q2 report is going to be :fire: :fire: :fire:

But… to the point of this OP… Republicans? Despite their reputation, the Republicans are worse at growing national wealth vs. the Democrats by almost a 2:1 deficit. And the numbers, and the history, and the trends, prove the fact that policies which favor the wealthy… Republican policies… are not necessarily policies which favor the economy. And since the beginnings of the Reagan era, the Republicans have been successful in pushing this myth of Republican prowess in the field of national economics, but they have not been successful at proving it. Hell, even the anecdotal evidence holds up: Of the economic downturns in my life, all but one (Jimmy Carter’s) occurred under Republicans: Nixon’s Stagflation, Reagan/Bush’s housing crisis, Bush 2’s housing crisis, and Trump’s COVID response failure.

TLDR? Policies which favor the wealthy do not favor the economy. Read the damned post! :stuck_out_tongue:

The biggest hole in this analysis is that the Republican and Democratic parties of today don’t really share the same economic policies (or much of anything else really) of those parties in the distant past. Like, whatever it is that the Republican party did for the economy in 1873 or during the Great Depression tells us very little about their policies today.

That is likely why the analysis is limited to Presidents since World War II.

Economic-policy speaking, it can be said that the Republicans have always been pro-wealthy/anti-redistribution (excepting TR, and they never made that mistake again), and the Dems… a bit less so.

To your point, I don’t know enough about, say, 1883 American economic thought as to ascribe ‘left’ and ‘right’ to the parties, but trust me: Since 1868, the Republicans have always been the party of the wealthy.

The third post is limited to the post-war period, the other two go earlier than 1945.

A majority of the OP’s analysis covers data prior to WWII.

What I see in the last set of tables is that apparently the wealth creation is very volatile these days- the top 10 and bottom 10 are dominated entirely by the last four presidents.

The other major problem is that the post-WWII numbers are largely measuring the fact that Democrats were presidents during the two major global economic boomtimes, the 1960s and the 1990s. The whole world experienced high economic growth during those decades. You could argue that it was because the US as a major world player with a capable Democrat at the helm helped ensure global stability and promoted worldwide economic growth, but… that seems like a questionable analysis to me.

It seems a lot more likely that the correlation you’re measuring goes the other way. In good times, people are more likely to vote for the social justice and redistributionist economic policies and collaborative foreign policies of Democrats because they want to spread the wealth and join in worldwide harmony, and when times are bad they’re more likely to vote for zero-sum foreign policy and tax cuts of the Republicans.

Add in the fact that any analysis of growth rates should involve some amount of lag. Like, to the extent that Clinton made good economic policy choices, whatever measurable growth was due to them probably didn’t start on Jan 20 1992 or end the day he left office. Reasonable people can argue about what the best or correct delay to use might be, but I can’t imagine any model in which it should be 0.

I tend to believe that Democratic economic policy is superior too. I just don’t think that you can really prove it with this sort of analysis.

I mean… that first paragraph is kinda circular, is it not? “The Dems economic numbers are good because the economy was good under Dem presidents, and therefore their ‘success’ should be discounted somehow” seems to be arguing that their success is not really their success… ?

Anyway, my counter: The Repubs had the 50s and 80s, two periods where the economy was supposedly so “great” a good chunk of Americans want to recapture that greatness even today. And, when it came to growing wealth, Eisenhower did a good job. But the economy was “great” in the 1980s as well, but Reagan’s wealth creation is about 1/2 of Ikes.

Why?

Because it was debt-fueled growth which aided Reagan’s economy, hence my focus on this specific metric (as opposed to the more commonly used GDP).

To the 2nd point about lag, point taken. Were this my Ph.D. thesis I would’ve taken timing into account… determined when the 1st budget went into effect, when the last budget ran out, reviewed “first hundred days” policy successes which may have had a pre-1st budget impact (and developed a weighting system for them), etc. But I just decided to make things simple by giving Presidents the ownership of the entire year (for example, FDR is credited with all of 1933, though he didn’t become President until March) and understanding that the first hundred days, plus the potential psychological impact of having a new leader, will have a direct, immediate impact on the economic landscape.

(But really, I did it just to keep things simple. :stuck_out_tongue: )

Also, I have a hard time figuring out how to reconcile this with the historical record:

“It seems a lot more likely that the correlation you’re measuring goes the other way. In good times, people are more likely to vote for the social justice and redistributionist economic policies and collaborative foreign policies of Democrats because they want to spread the wealth and join in worldwide harmony, and when times are bad they’re more likely to vote for zero-sum foreign policy and tax cuts of the Republicans.”

Again, not a Ph. D. thesis, but going through the post-war elections I would argue that we had ‘good times’ in 1952, 1956, 1972, 1984, 1988, 2000, 2004, and 2016, all Republican victories, and the 'bad times" of 1948, 1976, 1992, and 2008 were won by Democrats. The two “bad times” which saw a party switch from D to R were 1968 and 1980, but then the opposite occurred in 1992 and 2008, so it’s kinda a wash there.

Remember, the last two tables are “nominal” - that means, that they are not adjusted for inflation. Therefore, that’s precisely what you would expect to see - a 1% decline when Truman was President is smaller in nominal dollars than a 1% decline when Obama was President.

YearQuarter $ (in billions) Change from Previous Period President % Change
1946Q4 $804,807 $71,852 Truman 0.00%
1947Q4 $916,913 $112,106 Truman 13.93%
1948Q4 $969,614 $52,701 Truman 5.75%
1949Q4 $995,905 $26,291 Truman 2.71%
1950Q4 $1,097,331 $101,426 Truman 10.18%
1951Q4 $1,220,469 $123,138 Truman 11.22%
1952Q1 $1,234,235 $13,766 Truman 1.13%
1952Q2 $1,261,379 $27,144 Truman 2.20%
1952Q3 $1,274,763 $13,384 Truman 1.06%
1952Q4 $1,274,752 ($11) Truman 0.00%
Ranking YearQuarter $ (in billions) Change from Previous Period President % Change
273 2009Q1 $56,181,252 ($2,334,738) Obama -3.99%
42 2009Q2 $57,474,878 $1,293,626 Obama 2.30%
20 2009Q3 $59,468,396 $1,993,518 Obama 3.47%
95 2009Q4 $59,823,558 $355,162 Obama 0.60%
65 2010Q1 $60,464,594 $641,036 Obama 1.07%
270 2010Q2 $58,616,173 ($1,848,421) Obama -3.06%
15 2010Q3 $60,780,812 $2,164,639 Obama 3.69%
25 2010Q4 $62,700,473 $1,919,661 Obama 3.16%
54 2011Q1 $63,643,214 $942,741 Obama 1.50%

If you’re comparing percentages, then unless there were extreme inflation or deflation during the quarter, the adjustment for inflation should be unnecessary.

Eh, maybe. Given we have had some pretty inflationary periods over the course, I think that adjusting for it does more good than harm, especially when we have 10-year periods like:

Historical Inflation Rates, 1972-1982

1972 3.3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.2 2.7 2.9 2.9 3.2 3.4 3.7 3.4 3.2
1973 3.6 3.9 4.6 5.1 5.5 6.0 5.7 7.4 7.4 7.8 8.3 8.7 6.2
1974 9.4 10.0 10.4 10.1 10.7 10.9 11.5 10.9 11.9 12.1 12.2 12.3 11.0
1975 11.8 11.2 10.3 10.2 9.5 9.4 9.7 8.6 7.9 7.4 7.4 6.9 9.1
1976 6.7 6.3 6.1 6.0 6.2 6.0 5.4 5.7 5.5 5.5 4.9 4.9 5.8
1977 5.2 5.9 6.4 7.0 6.7 6.9 6.8 6.6 6.6 6.4 6.7 6.7 6.5
1978 6.8 6.4 6.6 6.5 7.0 7.4 7.7 7.8 8.3 8.9 8.9 9.0 7.6
1979 9.3 9.9 10.1 10.5 10.9 10.9 11.3 11.8 12.2 12.1 12.6 13.3 11.3
1980 13.9 14.2 14.8 14.7 14.4 14.4 13.1 12.9 12.6 12.8 12.6 12.5 13.5
1981 11.8 11.4 10.5 10.0 9.8 9.6 10.8 10.8 11.0 10.1 9.6 8.9 10.3
1982 8.4 7.6 6.8 6.5 6.7 7.1 6.4 5.9 5.0 5.1 4.6 3.8 6.2

For comparison’s sake, here is the inflation data for the Eisenhower presidency:

1953 0.4 0.8 1.1 0.8 1.1 1.1 0.4 0.7 0.7 1.1 0.7 0.7 0.8
1954 1.1 1.5 1.1 0.8 0.7 0.4 0.4 0.0 -0.4 -0.7 -0.4 -0.7 0.7
1955 -0.7 -0.7 -0.7 -0.4 -0.7 -0.7 -0.4 -0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 -0.4
1956 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.7 1.1 1.9 2.2 1.9 1.9 2.2 2.2 3.0 1.5
1957 3.0 3.4 3.7 3.7 3.7 3.3 3.3 3.7 3.3 2.9 3.3 2.9 3.3
1958 3.6 3.2 3.6 3.6 3.2 2.8 2.5 2.1 2.1 2.1 2.1 1.8 2.8
1959 1.4 1.0 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.7 0.7 1.0 1.4 1.7 1.4 1.7 0.7
1960 1.0 1.7 1.7 1.7 1.7 1.7 1.4 1.4 1.0 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.7

I’m fine doing the extra work, tbh.

Not to be too flip, but what’s the point of all that, if they’re not normalized to some unified dollar figure? You can’t compare the numbers across administrations without doing that.

Those last two charts are in nominal dollars. Everything else in that post is in adjusted (June 2020) dollars.

Great, but why aren’t they in adjusted dollars too? Even across the time from Bush Sr. through Trump, the value of money changed enough to warrant adjustment.

Good summary, JT.

My cliff notes’ addendum: before FDR’s New Deal, we had financial crises at least once every 25 years, if not more frequently. Recessions were often much more severe, often lasting between 2 and 5 years. We haven’t had that problem since 1933. Even in the worst financial crisis seen in 80 years (owing largely to Republican’s love of deregulation policy), the recession didn’t even last a year. Roosevelt’s New Deal was that effing good.

Too much work. There’s 279 rows of data which would need to be adjusted, I merely did the quarters which correlated with the start of Presidential administrations (which meant I only had to do ~30 conversions).

There are clues.

Like when Democrats take over and want to increase stimulus, Republicans become fiscal hawks. But only when Democrats are in power. When Republicans have control of the White House and presiding over an economic crisis, they’re much more willing to chuck their ideology into the waste bin - probably because they know it sucks.

The Bush administration learned the lessons of Hoover from 1929-1932: stubbornly adhering to the ideology of not wanting to increase the welfare state is a recipe for electoral disaster and even civil unrest. Even Trump and McConnell, who have repeatedly tried to strip Obamacare away from millions of Americans, understand that he had better keep the stimulus spigot functioning or risk a political tsunami (assuming we have free and fair elections, that is).