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Best president for the economy

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Posted: 6 pm ET

The economy was front and center in the Republican presidential campaign and, now that Democratic President Barack Obama has been re-elected, how does he rank with other recent presidents on economic improvement?

Since World War II, Democrats have done better than Republicans when measured on 17 indicators of economic success, according to Richard J. Carroll, author of "The President as Economist: Scoring Economic Performance From Harry Truman to Barack Obama."

Presidential economic performance

Harry Truman 176.0
John Kennedy 100.0
Lyndon Johnson 51.5
Dwight Eisenhower 40.7
Gerald Ford 39.5
Bill Clinton 14.5
Richard Nixon 2.8
Ronald Reagan -23.2
Barack Obama -68.9
George H. Bush -73.1
Jimmy Carter -111.4
George W. Bush -148.4
Source: Bloomberg.

But after his first administration, Obama can't claim to be among the successful: He scores fourth from the bottom of Carroll's list. The only Democrat with a worse score is Jimmy Carter. Father-and-son Republicans George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush also fall further down on the list.

The presidents with the three highest scores are all Democrats: Harry Truman is No. 1, followed by John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. The first Republican to show up on the list is Dwight Eisenhower, at No. 4.
In an article in Bloomberg, Carroll explains that he scored the 12 post-war presidents based on indicators including GDP growth, unemployment rate, the number of people living below the poverty line, increase in the Dow Jones industrial average, savings and investment rates, exports and trade balances, federal budget growth, and debt and federal taxes as a share of GDP.

He penalized them if the federal budget grew faster than the economy during their terms. He also counted higher tax revenue as a share of GDP against them. The analysis doesn't take into account the first year in office because the president is likely dealing with policies from the previous administration, Carroll notes.

The chart provides the scores of all 12 presidents since World War II. How does your favorite rank?

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tired of racism
November 10, 2012 at 7:39 am

If he is a failure it is because of those dumb Republicans who are trying to prove a point and care nothing about the innocent household that are being afffeced by them not wanting a African American president. They will shoot down whatever he tries to do to strenghten this economy and I am really surprised that all these smart, intelligent people of America do not see that, or maybe they are in the bed with the Republicans.
He is by far the most intelligent President that this country has ever seen.

November 10, 2012 at 2:41 am

The saddest part of these list is the GWB and Barry O are the ONLY presidents who had a Fed that has magically printed trillions of dollars over the last couple years. Guess that just proves the efficeintcy of an hyper active government and a central bank that goes unchecked.

Rico Sharpp
November 09, 2012 at 9:11 pm

bill, bill, bill. Sorry to inform you, but liberal America will wake up (hopefully just in time) to realize that their agenda is crushing our nation as we knew it. Even the media will respond with the truth for a change, after it's obvious that there is no where to go but up. Liberal ideals may sound good right now to a lot of people, but years, if not months down the road, we will progress right down a slippery slope to oblivion. I predict that it will be the Democratic Party that will fail so miserably, and obviously, then fade away like snowfall in the desert.

Colin Hammond
November 09, 2012 at 10:34 am

And Bill Morris, is a 1 party system a good system? That leads to a dictatorship. Does that make you happy? You know who has/had a 1 party system? Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Nazi-Germany, Italy under Mussolini, Iraq, Iran, Libya..Real hot beds of freedom and civil rights. Is that where you want to lead the United States to? You want the Republicans to have some measure of success if only to force the other side, your side to continue listening to you and give you what you want...because if there is no opposition, then there are no entitlements anymore because they have consolidated the power and you can't stop them. They will no longer need to buy your vote.

bill morris
November 09, 2012 at 10:25 am

The Sky is falling! The Sky is falling, get over it Repubicans,
Your Party will not even be here in about 30 years or less and you do not even know why? It is because there are 6,000 Mexicans born in this country every week and they are now Americans since they were born here and by age 18 yrs. can vote
Simply do the numbers and you will know how many votes that is in the next 20/30 years. And Mexicans will not become Republicans. The Tea Party ruined the Republican Party and it also will not be around thank God!!

Mitt Rommey has been running for President -- for 16 years if you did not know that and he still lost!!

Karl Rove is history!!

Colin Hammond
November 09, 2012 at 10:19 am

This is a b.s. list. Truman at the top. Why? The war machine was still going, so that pumped up business. Then the war ended, he brought the troops home. Most of the women went back home and the men filled back into the job force. Production of construction materials soared to rebuild Europe and Asia (everybody elses steel mills were bombed out), so you had economic growth. Eventually that hits a peak and either levels off or recedes...which is why Eisenhower's respectable numbers are just that, respectable. Kennedy's are high because we are at the heart of the cold war, and the war machine is ramping up again for Vietnam. LBJ's is ramped up because of Vietnam, a long, sustained war. War did not help the Bush's because Desert Storm was over in weeks and because the economic system is so globalized now that even as we were building new bombs the other industries were shipping all other manufacturing jobs to Malaysia and China and Mexico. Additionally, during the Bush years the Cold War ended, which caused a crash in the defense industry, which was not the fault of the President. What good is a war machine in peace? So that industry failed. I did not vote for Sr. the 2nd time because I felt his reaction was not good (sorry, should never have voted for Perot), but I did not blame him for the crash...the crash was better than continuing the cold war.

And remember, this chart is about growth...so Nixon's are not great because he SUSTAINED what LBJ was doing, did not increase it...if you inherit something good, maybe you can't build upon it, but if you sustain profits and jobs, that is good, but ignored here.

Clinton's was up because of the dot.com boom, which was built on lies and eventually crashed, but late enough in his term that the effects landed more onto Bush, then 9/11 crushed Bush, so while he rebuilt what we had inherited he could not grow it...plus he had to stem off the recession as long as he could, which was caused by high risk mortgages pushed by Clinton and Albright because "everybody has the right to own a home" and then deregulation, signed by Clinton in 1999 (hey, if Bush gets blamed for Congressional spending in 2006-2008, when the Dems took over, then Clinton should get the blame for deregulation that the GoP led Congress passed and he signed in 1999...fair is fair).

Basically, a President with high growth will be followed by a guy with less growth simply because continued growth cannot be sustained. There will always be ups and downs. The problem is when you have downs and more downs. Obama inherited something bad and it has continued to slide. The truth is that his predeccessor inherited something bad too, but like cancer, it did not show up right away. The symptoms were there, and he tried to treat it with lowering interest rates and cutting taxes to stimulate the economy, but it only held it off, did not cure it. Congress refused to act on Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, and that was the ultimate catalyst.

November 09, 2012 at 9:59 am

@Kay...the same sense it made that George W Bush was reelected for a seconde term! Let's see, weapons of Mass Destruction (lie), ruined all our Foreign relations, went after the wrong Country for the tragedy on 9/11 (Daddy's revenge) Great reason America....obviously no was awake then!!!!!!!!!!!!

David L. Darling
November 09, 2012 at 9:51 am


The stability of a society is in its middle class. Often
the lower class can not afford middle class values and
frequently, the upper class choose to ignore middle class values. Thus, one desirable outcome of economic progress is a thriving and growing middle class for which all can reasonably aspire. This middle class balances our American society. In addition, it is the responsibility of those with wealth and power to create and institute mechanisms to accomplish this goal.

sick and tired
November 09, 2012 at 9:39 am

Watch what is going on in Greece right now!! That will be happening in this country soon enough

November 09, 2012 at 9:37 am

Black or white, he is the President of the United States and he is a failure, a failure who was re-elected! What kind of sense does that make only if he was voted in by the color of his skin,voted in due to being scared of immigration reform,voted in because the other guy is going to trample my rights as a gay or a female and voted in based on lies. Great reason America! Wake up!!