From an entirely observational and economic standpoint, the first term of Obama’s presidency has been entertaining to say the least.
Despite an at times tumultuous economic and political landscape, with the Standard and Poor’s downgrade of the US credit rating last summer and the extremely partisan political environment, there have been some real positive statistical takeaways as well. And as the political rhetoric heats up once more before November’s elections, we’ve highlighted the two most interesting and impacting (in our opinion) economic statistics of Obama’s first term as well as the other two Republican and Democratic Presidents who’ve experienced similar stories:
Dow Gains Over 50% in Obama’s First Term:
This puts Obama in an elite class of just 5 presidents (Obama being the 5th) who have witnessed these sort of gains in the Dow during their watch. Two democrats (Bill Clinton and Franklin D Roosevelt) as well as two Republicans (Calvin Coolidge and Dwight D. Eisenhower) have ever been apart of such a feat as a sitting US president.
Obviously there are arguments as to whether or not the actual president (in either Obama’s case or any of the other four) had much to do with the historic rise of the Dow under their watch. The first president of this elite group, Calvin Coolidge, reigned over the “Roaring 20′s,” a time when the stock market seemed like a never ending hot streak in Vegas. This was a time when only the top 2% of taxpayers paid any federal income tax. And even though Coolidge sought after minimizing the federal government many industries took off in part because of governmental research and investment (ie Radio and Consumer Airlines). The last two presidents (Clinton and Obama) have led the free world under entirely different circumstances. Clinton, the first modern president since 1970 to balance the budget, also got to reign over the rise of the internet and the economic benefits that came with it. However, similarly to the new industries Coolige resided over (radio and commercial flight), it was government spending in research and development that lead to the invention.
$4 Trillion Added to Federal Deficit Under Obama’s First Term:
When Obama took office the debt was $10.626 trillion. Since then, the national debt has risen to $14.639 trillion (roughly a $17,000 debt per citizen). This is a rise in roughly 40% from when Bush was in office. However, if you divide the debt amassed under Bush’s presidency it would come to a little over $5 trillion per term, while Obama’s sits at a nearby $4 trillion. This begs the question, which presidents have added the most to our federal deficit? While this seems like a fairly easy question to find the answer to, it is not.
Because never before have we dealt with debt in terms of trillions or 10′s of trillions of dollars. Prior to Nixon and the induction of the FED, the US couldn’t just print money like they do today, it was all backed by gold. This made it tougher for sitting presidents to rack up substantial federal deficits. Thus we only have a small batch of presidents (7) to analyze since Richard Nixon abolished the gold standard – making Clinton’s accomplishment of being the first president to balance the budget since Nixon a more remarkable feat.
The bottom line, however, is this: Of the seven presidents since Nixon (and even those before), many have put forth plans or regulations which we are still paying for and thus can’t fully calculate the total impact of in terms of real dollars (think medicare and medicaid). All we really know for certain is that as a whole the sum is staggering, and has been piled on to from BOTH sides of the political aisle.