Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Best Presidents For The Economy

Presidents get too much credit for the economy when things are good and too much blame when things are poor.

We tend to imagine every blip in the stock market and every unemployment report as a direct reflection of a president's policies -- particularly during election years. In reality, Congress and the Federal Reserve probably have just as much, if not more, sway over the economy than any president. And one president's policies can spill over into the next administration, making it difficult to sort out who is liable for what. We have a hard enough time accurately measuring what the economy is doing, let along assigning responsibility for its moves.

Still, everyone should know a little economic history. And the cleanest way to get a feel for how the economy has done under past presidents is to just lay the numbers bare.
Here are five economic variables going back to 1900, covering every president from Teddy Roosevelt to Barack Obama.
  1. Stock market performance
This is the inflation-adjusted, dividend-adjusted, performance of the S&P 500:

This is from The Motley Fool.  It is interesting but is the Standard and Poor the best way to measure the health of the economy?  It is just a tiny part of measuring the health of the economy.

What did that president do to affect it?  Probably not much at all although some did.  Most were in office at just the right time or if they are on the bottom of this list, they happened to be president at a very bad time.

The thing I think we need most right now is leadership.  I just don't see any leadership today.  It seems we have done everything possible to limit economic growth and now no one trusts anyone else.

I really think we need leadership.  What do you think?

Ed Winkle


  1. You're right, it's just one indicator, others are unemployment, GDP, and modern surveys now include some "happiness factor", also known as Gross National Happiness, the U.S. coming 17th worldwide, most Scandinavian countries ranking in the first five, even though they have some of the highest taxes in the world.

    There were no happiness factor survey for previous presidents, so we can compare only forward.

    I don't know about what's been done that limits economic growth, the S&P 500 shows that at least, the top fortunes got even richer than under any other recent president. Unfortunately, most jobs and economic activity comes from the small enterprises and individual entrepreneurs who didn't benefit as much from the S&P 500's good fortune...

  2. Dad always said Harry Truman was the best president he worked under.

    For me it would be Bill Clinton, my $100 gilt transaction turned into $30,000 and sent Matt to College.

    Search $100 gilt HyMark Highspots.

    Ed Winkle

  3. Nice. You can't do that anymore, $30,000 will buy you only one semester now... ;)