U.S. Real Economic Growth Since Truman — Updated

July 31, 2009

Today’s GDP report included extensive benchmark data revisions dating back the late 1940’s.  In light of wide interest in a series of previous postings on this site that compared U.S. economic performances under different presidencies, I have recalculated percent per annum real GDP growth rates.  Barrack Obama has considerable ground to recoup to avoid overseeing the weakest performance of all, since GDP fell by a whopping 3.8% at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate in his first two quarters between 4Q08 and 2Q09.  Even if real GDP expanded at a 3.0% annualized rate for the ensuing 3.5 years, growth during his first term would average just 2.1% per annum, which is weak by historical standards.  If Obama manages to win a second term and growth averages 3.0% per annum over the next 7.5 years to end-2016, GDP over all eight years of the Obama presidency would still have expanded at a subpar 2.6% per annum.  And with the long-term structural shifts that have reduced potential U.S. GDP growth, I strongly doubt that the economy can achieve 3.0% per annum growth during the next 7-1/2 years.  To draw an analogy to a baseball game, the Obama presidency had about eight runs scored against it in the very first inning and now faces a very challenging grind out a win by the end of the game.

Presidency GDP Growth Per Annum, %
Obama -3.8%
Bush43 +1.9%
Clinton +3.8%
Bush41 +2.1%
Reagan +3.5%
Carter +3.2%
Ford +2.6%
Nixon +2.8%
Johnson +5.1%
Kennedy +5.2%
Eisenhower +2.5%
Truman (1Q47-4Q52) +4.7%

Copyright Larry Greenberg 2009.  All rights reserved.  No secondary distribution without express permission.



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