In a new book on the economic performance of the twelve U.S. presidents since World War Two, the author ranks Ronald Reagan 8th and Barack Obama 9th.
Now, I wrote yesterday why I think the book’s rating system is flawed overall, and specifically why Reagan deserves a much higher ranking — if not the top ranking.
But it is also extremely weird that Reagan and Obama are right next to each other. And I think these next two charts demonstrate why it is so strange.
First, here is cumulative GDP growth during the first three years of the Reagan recovery and the Obama recovery, using the dating system of the National Bureau of Economic Research and optimistically assuming 2% growth for the second quarter of this year:
Big advantage to Reagan. Second, here is a comparison of net new nonfarm payrolls created over the first 35 months of the two recoveries, adjusted for the growth in population since the 1980s:
Massive advantage to Reagan.
Now the book looks at the entire presidencies of the twelve, and perhaps Obama’s next four years, if he gets a second term, would be better than his first four. But Reagan’s second term saw average GDP growth of 3.6% and the unemployment rate fall to 5.3%. That’s a high hurdle for Obama to clear.