So rather than holding Obama responsible for a recession he inherited, or praising him simply because that recession didn't continue perpetually, the fairest measure of his economic stewardship is this one:
How does the Obama recovery compare to other recoveries from similar downturns across the decades?
On that basis, the Obama recovery can only be graded as a tremendous failure — as it has produced the worst rate of economic growth of any recovery in the past 65 years.
Over that span, we've had 10 previous recessions and 10 previous recoveries. According to the federal government's own Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), average real (inflation-adjusted) GDP growth in the first three years after those recessions was 4.6%.
During the Obama recovery (which began three years ago, in July 2009), average real GDP growth has been just 2.2% — less than half the historical norm. Of the past 11 recoveries, the Obama recovery has been the worst.
The 10 stronger recoveries involved Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush — in other words, every other postwar president.
Some might suppose that this is because the 2008-09 recession was a particularly long and debilitating one. But the historical record shows that the pattern is generally as follows: the worse the recession, the stronger the recovery.
Indeed, if we limit our comparison to the five longest recessions in the past 65 years (each of which lasted at least 11 months), we find the following: During the four pre-Obama recoveries from such recessions, average real GDP growth in the first three years was a whopping 5.9% — dwarfing the 2.2% figure under Obama.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment