GOP Administration == Recession?

jbone at jbone at
Thu Sep 25 01:51:06 PDT 2003

An interesting bit of back-of-the-envelope analysis, putting the lie 
yet again to the "Republicans == Good For The Economy" myth / lie.  
This, James, is supportive of the water-cooler argument I made a while 
back which you simply rejected as subjective distortion.  Or, putting 
the lie to another old saw (recently mentioned by Gojo):  " If you're 
not a Republican by the time you're 30, you have no brain."  I submit 
that if regardless of age you're still a Republican in 2004, you've got 
no math, no historical perspective, and no common sense.

With a single exception, every recession since 1970 has happened on a 
GOP President's watch.  The timeline looks approximately like this:

	4th Q 1969 - 4th Q 1970:  Recession  (4Q)
	4th Q 1973 - 1st Q 1975:  Recession (5Q)
	1st Q 1980 - 3rd Q 1980:  Recession (2Q)
	3rd Q 1981 - 4th Q 1982: Recession (5Q)
	3rd Q 1990 - 1st Q 1991: Recession (2Q)
	1st Q 2001 - 3rd Q 2002?: Recession (6Q)

Looked at another way, in the 132 quarters since 4Q69, we have had 24 
quarters (18% of all quarters) in which the economy was officially 
considered recessionary for most or all of the quarter.  Of those, 2 
quarters (8.3% of all recessionary quarters, 1.5% of all quarters) were 
on a Democratic President's watch.  Consider that (48 / 132 = .3636) 
36%of all quarters over that period (since 4Q69) were spent on a Dem's 
watch, while 64% were on GOP watch.  So, naively:  given the last 1/3 
century of data as exemplary, you're about ((91.7 / 64) / (8.3 / 36) = 
6.2) six times as likely to be be in a recession on any given day under 
a Republican as on any given day under a Democrat.

Let's pick that apart a little more.  We're saying that around 92% of 
all recessionary days occurred during the 64% of all days in which a 
Republican was in office.  8% or so of all recessionary days occurred 
during the 36% or so of all days in which a Democrat was in office.  
Thus, factoring out the relative amount of time that Republicans have 
held the White House over the last 33 years vs. the Democrats, any 
randomly-chosen day under the GOP is 6x likelier to be during a 
recession than any randomly-chosen day under a Democrat.

Conclusion:  if you love recessions, vote GOP --- you're far more 
likely to get one.  If instead you want economic growth, vote Democrat. 
  Grrr.  Hey, the numbers are what they are.

Conclusion, more "fair and balanced" than is probably deserved:  a 
Republican in the White House is much more highly correlated to and 
predictive of economic recession than a Democratic administration.  
Exercise for the reader:  squint just a little at the timeline above to 
see that recovery is also prolonged / delayed under Republican 
administration and policies.

Granted, this is all correlative rather than causative and is a gross 
simplification.  The above ignores the partisan makeup and ideological 
bias of the Congress during any particular President's tenure and about 
a bazillion other factors.  However it is important not to 
underestimate the impact of the President as a figurehead, the impact 
on consumer confidence and business climate, or the power of the 
presidential "bully pulpit."  Ultimately, the President proposes 
budgets, signs bills, and has a high degree of control over the size, 
makeup and actions of the federal bureaucracy --- he and his team have 
more power over these things than any other single person, and 
ultimately he (they) must take more credit (or blame) for the impact of 
those things on American society.

A.B.B. in '04!



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