We interrupt the George Bush reputation rehabilitation tour for this brief reminder:

“For most of the past 70 years, the U.S. economy has grown at a steady clip, generating perpetually higher incomes and wealth for American households. But since 2000, the story is starkly different.

The past decade was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times, a sharp reversal from a long period of prosperity that is leading economists and policymakers to fundamentally rethink the underpinnings of the nation’s growth.

It was, according to a wide range of data, a lost decade for American workers. The decade began in a moment of triumphalism — there was a current of thought among economists in 1999 that recessions were a thing of the past. By the end, there were two, bookends to a debt-driven expansion that was neither robust nor sustainable.”

Just in case you forgot: By nearly any conceivable measure, the George W. Bush administration (2000-08) economic performance was the worst of any President since Hoover.

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Source:
Aughts were a lost decade for U.S. economy, workers
Neil Irwin
Washington Post, January 2, 2010
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/01/AR2010010101196_pf.html

Category: Employment, Really, really bad calls, Wages & Income

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

71 Responses to “The U.S. Economy’s Lost Decade”

  1. Patrick Neid says:

    Post bubble would you really expect anything different? Viscerally disliking some one doesn’t change the background. Love won’t help either.

  2. wisedup says:

    ah, he was sticking it to the denialists, not injecting any personal animosity. You think its cute to have more stupidity running amok in America?

  3. flipspiceland says:

    Blame it on Sam Walton, LBOs, Mergers and Acquisitions, Lord Blankfein and his accomplices, like Larry Fink at Blackrock, Dick Fuld, Joe Cassano…..all the big brain guys who used their awesome given intellectual prowess to combine, consolidate, leverage, and package stuff, without creating one unique business that would employ the semi-skilled, skilled, and administrative types in new frontiers, wipe out competition with the assistance of the federal government who would reverse Roosevelt’s trust busters, then they could become zillionaires.

    Bubbles were only a part of the lost decade and the decade was the result of the harbingers before them beginning with the Chevron purchase of Guf Oil in the early ’80s, a completely unnecessary sale that cashed out the Mellon family for pennies. Anyone care to guess what Gulf Oil would be worth today with savvy leadership at the helm instead of as it is now a dead carcass?

    And let’ s not forget Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, the evil architects of junk bonds used to effect millions of job elimination moves. There should be a 1oth ring in hell for these immoral geniuses who sold out the people of the world for personal gain.

  4. stonedwino says:

    Cutting taxes for the wealthiest among us and corporate America has been a total failure. Trickle down does not work either…when will we learn that we must have a progressive tax system, with those able to pay shouldering more of the burden so we can eliminate the income gap and create a better society for many more…

  5. OneMist8k says:

    While we’re on the subject, Bush didn’t veto his first bill until 2006, and even then it was a “moral” veto (stem cell research).

    If, in 1999 economists thought recessions were a thing of the past, I also remember the dismissing of budget deficits as no big deal. Hmmm….

  6. dead hobo says:

    BR concluded:

    Just in case you forgot: By nearly any conceivable measure, the George W. Bush administration (2000-08) economic performance was the worst of any President since Hoover.

    reply:
    —————
    Both you and I would agree with this excerpt. So would millions of others. I doubt GWB would. I honestly don’t know what’s going through his mind or what motivated him or the other nutballs who worked so hard to create the world we now live in. But he certainly thought and probably still thinks he and his crew and his philosophical supporters did good work.

    Anyone can fuck up. With GWB and his zealots, you can list war, economic disaster, death, natural disaster, and more. You saw neglect for the common person unless said common person could be used to enrich someone at the expense of the common person. Creating an intentional underclass for illegal aliens to live in fear of deportation while paying them a pittance and requiring part of the wages to be kicked back as employment taxes is one example. You see almost 20% unemployment and underemployment combined. You see scandalously wealthy barons of industry enriched directly and indirectly by public dollars. Everyone knows the story. I won’t add more examples.

    Yet he is undoubtedly proud of his Presidency. This raises the question of mental illness, indescribable stupidity, Satan inflicting his vision of ‘good’ on the world (no I’m not religious or superstitious but GWB claims to be and his unrelenting ‘good works’ looks like evil to me … who is he really serving?), or just a willing puppet for the thieves who saw their opportunity and took it when he was elected?

    What on earth could be going through his head so that he can look in the mirror and feel good about the person he sees?

  7. flipspiceland says:

    dead hobo

    Your history is too brief. Your partisanship too narrow. The sellout of american workers began 30 years before Bush, and few despise this cretin more than I do.

    Go back in time to see when the plunder of the middle class began.

    In dealing with men of no morals, like Bush, Clinton, theBamster, and all the rest of the political class it helps immensely not just to know the orchsestra that is playing for them but what tune it is they are dancing to.

  8. “stonedwino” — how apt.

    augering for M@rxism, that’s a Classic~

    “..so we can eliminate the income gap and create a better society for many more…”

    Guaranteeing ‘Equality of Outcome’ makes for ‘a better World’ ? Since when? where?

    you may care to learn something, here http://mockingbird.creighton.edu/english/fajardo/teaching/srp435/vonnegut.htm

    or, maybe, read the Original http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/harrison.html

  9. ben22 says:

    I doubt anyone would argue that Bush was awful….how could they?

    That said, the big picture seems to show that by most meaningful economic measures the economy wasn’t looking so hot by the time bush took office.

    Considering our two huge bull markets in stocks from 42-66 and from 75-00 you’ll find in the 75-00 period that average annual real gdp was weaker, industrial production was weaker, capacity utilization lower, average monthly unemployment was higher. If you start looking at measures debt, deficits, and liquidity it’s the same, household liquid assets, personal savings rate, consumer debt, etc, all much worse from 75-00. Even if you start the second bull market in 1982 it only slightly changes some of the data and in some cases it looks even worse.

    So, while Bush was no doubt a disaster, it would at least seem in looking at the data the 2000′s have also been about the continuation of a longer trend. Maybe a PhD. can school me on why that’s wrong though.

  10. Greg0658 says:

    logged in to say I’m in the camp with ya’s – BR flip wino hobo .. fact is its all about capture and living a life in general bliss .. people turn the other way as long as it generally works for the masses .. but the masses are notice’g theres not enough to go round in the present system with pie slices getting smaller creating tribe capture games … hense why I think the next millenium needs a different system of capture and share … or else the inventions of the industrial /computer age will be used by the folks that own that capture for those tribes benefit

  11. Jim Greeen says:

    If you rob a bank, but are never prosecuted, you’re still a bank robber.

    George W. Bush, among other things, is a war criminal by any definition. Just because he will never be prosecuted does not alter his war criminal status.

    But what does it say about our great country when the head of state can commit such heinous crimes against humanity then go live in Dallas?

  12. Kort says:

    It’s a terrible decade but Bush wasn’t president in “2000″ and the Nasdaq peaked way back in March 2000, nearly 1 year before he took office (Jan 2001). But a crappy, crappy decade that probably has another 10 years to repair.

  13. wally says:

    “Blame it on Sam Walton, LBOs, Mergers and Acquisitions, Lord Blankfein…”

    And is it just coincidence that all these things happen at once? Of course not. Blame it on some shift in culture or attitude that makes that kind of me-first greed widely accepted and even admired. I wonder what that would be?

  14. dead hobo says:

    flipspiceland Says:
    July 27th, 2010 at 8:22 am

    dead hobo

    Your history is too brief. … Go back in time to see when the plunder of the middle class began.

    reply:
    ———-
    Agreed that the economic boom of the 1990s was an at-the-time unrecognized credit disaster in the making. Some of the economic problems that manifested so terribly during the GWB years had their genesis in the very late Clinton years (and some of the same idiots who advised Clinton are now advising Obama). BR has written extensively on this. Reagan learned how to borrow money and stick others with the bill. Reagan, Bush I & II also institutionalized the concept of Republican Wars so as not to look like puss*es.

    GWB just took this accumulating stupidity, incompetence, and the need for war and turned it into a symphony of perfection. It will take decades to out-stupid him.

  15. NoKidding says:

    1) Coincidence of economic bubble with start of decade
    2) Population growth
    3) Which president signed NAFTA?

  16. dead hobo says:

    Actually, If Newt hadn’t taken control of Congress and organized the Republicans in the 1990s, the world disasters of today would not exist. This was the metaphorical flap of the butterfly wings.

  17. ACS says:

    If you want to go back to the start of insane economic policy then I nominate “Guns & Butter” LBJ and his enabler, William McChesney Martin. Everything since has been built on their example.

  18. super_trooper says:

    As the wise Bush used to say let history be the judge of his presidency. Probably one of the smartest things he said. Who remembers the Panick of 1857 and James Buchanan? So in a century, who will remember GWB. I think some perspective is needed.

  19. curbyourrisk says:

    It’s a real shame that GWB did not have an ALGORE type VP who could have pumped Y2K and scared millions of small companies and families for that matter to go out and upgrade their computer systmes. It’s a shame that all that FORCED investing gave them record amounts of tax revenues. Its a shame that all those jobs that the Y2K sham created then fell apart right after the GORE/CLINTON administration fell apart. It’s a CONVENIENT TRUTH that all those job losses which were pumped up durin ght ehayday of the stock market bubbles were then lost on the GWB time table. It is a real shame that GWB did not run around the the country, or the world for that matter, crying…”look what I inherited” ” you can;t blame me it was the other guys fault”. Yeah it is a real shame that the truth is hidden byu the lizard brain partisan politics you so vehemntly hate Barry. Wasn’t it you yesterday asking us not to spew stuff like this. Thank you for again and again proving my point. Your blog has turned from a very good place to find economic speak to now nothing more than you and holier than thou attitude pontificating your “VIEW” on how everything should be. It’s a real shame, I used to enjoy reading you. Now I enjoy reading the comments more than the substance. Why didn’t GWB go around blaming the prior administration for the problems he “inherited”? Maybe it was because he was trying to find a way to defend the US from terrorists, since the guy before him let him get away and did nothing to protect the country during the 8 years he was there???? Maybe……. But I am not one to lay the blame of others for what GWB did screw up with. He should have paid more attention to the Economy and I am not over looking that, but to continually bash this guy is wrong. Obama has maade more WRONG decisions in his first 2 years that GWB made in his 8 years as our leader (on the economy – not other things). Obama, in my view, has made the wrong decision on just about everything he could have actually changed. I am sick and tired of people protecting this fool.

    By the way, we should look at some of those BOOM times people talk about. There might not have been a bank inspired credit boom in the 1990′s, but there was a Corporate inspired credit boom. Companies like Corning, Lucent and Cycso, some the highest fliers of the 1990′s all financed thier customers buying sprees. What happened to their stocks after the boom blew up. Well, Corning crashed hard and Lucent disapeared. Cycso went from a $80 a share stock to $10. So don’t go around promoting the Clinton era. It was just as much influenced by credit, just the banks perfected the game nad blew it even bigger. It was all those people sitting at home trading stocks paying income taxes that balanced the budget. And what happened to all those people who paid all that income tax??? Well, I know quite a few of them still writing off their losses afte the crash.

    Barry, I say it more and more often. Keep your blog regulated to economics….and stay away from politics. If I want that, I can go to hotair.com or go read limbaugh or michael moore.

  20. Good observation ACS. George W Bush and Lyndon Johnson have more in common than just being products of the great state of Texas.

    The first metric upon which I measure a president is foreign policy, not domestic economics. With either presidents Johnson or W, foreign policy (and its subsidiary, “diplomacy by other means”) was a disaster. Johnson thought he could direct bombing runs from the basement of the White House. Bush took four years to realize that supplanting a bad regime in Iraq with anarchy is no sort of victory at all, and piddled around so in Afghanistan, until there we still are, still piddling around.

    For either president, domestic economic performance suffered tremendously at the hands of foreign policy. The inflation of the seventies got its start with Johnson’s refusal to make fiscal choices between conducting foreign wars and expansion of the welfare state. Bush never saw a government program he didn’t like, but didn’t worry that his fiscal expansionism might be affected by the cost of military adventurism.

    So here we are, doing a seventies redux. Maybe the modern-day version of Jimmy Carter won’t turn out like he did.

  21. Cynic_FA says:

    I go with BR on nominating Bush 43 as the worst US President since Hoover. Many argue that Bush is blamed for Clinton mistakes and Clinton tech bubble.

    The chart of worst economic decade does not go far enough because it does not show the weakening of America from fighting two wars and borrowing trillions of dollars from the Chinese.

    I go you one better. Bush was so bad that he actually was the primary cause for electing Obama, giving the Dem’s 60 votes in the Senate, passing Obamacare, and the 2009 trillion dollar deficit. Bush was at the switch when the banks ran amok in 2005 and 2006, so Bush was responsible for the TARP ( and it’s dozens of little brothers and sisters) and the bailout or simply wasted cost of AIG/FNM/FRE/GM.

    Compare Bush with Nixon. One president ran the country through a long disastrous war in Asia, watched over the decline of the auto industry, and we had the worst market crash since 1929. Then Bush was around 10 times worse – 10 times as much spent on a losing war in Asia, 10 times as much wealth lost in the market and housing, and a total bankruptcy of the auto industry. After Nixon we got Carter, after Bush we got Obama/Pelossi – again about ten times worse.

  22. jeff in indy says:

    do presidents, especially the modern ones, really matter or are they merely markers in the timeline?

  23. curbyourrisk says:

    Cynic: Under “other” presidents we saw the bankruptcy of the steel industry, I mean seriously…..bankruptcy of the auto industry as something to blame on a president? The economy has nothing to do with who is in the white house. Yeah, he should have paid more attention to it.. I put the blame directly on Wall street and their leveraging. All those blow hards running private equity and using PIK notes. We have hundred of customers who are owned by private equity. We had good relationships with these customers throught he 1990′s, but hten they were all bought by the likes of Sun Capital, Appollo management and Carlyle Group. Now they won;t talk to us, tell us talk to the parent. They used to hsare financial information with us while we determined their credit lines. Now getting onformation from them is harder then drawing water from a stone. They used PIK notes to make the acquisitions, they collect $10 million mmanagement fees per year. It’s a joke. They killed good companies. We are watching more and more of them die under the weight of their own debt. Debt they never had before. Pretty interesting debt disaster going on with one of Carlyles “invetments” right now. Wall Street failed us. Congress failed us, The President failed us…..we failed our selves. We were all making money in the markets, we became complacent. No one cared what was really happeneing as long as we could buy our 4th plasma tv and that 3rd SUV. All of a sudden we all have religion now…. Please….its all a joke.

  24. Bruman says:

    Presidents still matter. Although even a POTUS is not omniPOT(US)ent, they are still, to borrow a phrase from Schumpeter “the switchmen of history,” who can influence the direction of things much bigger than them even if they cannot control it.

    It is for this reason that an intelligent, thinking President is so important, as opposed to the “rule by slogan” we had from 2000-2008. One needs a policy coordinator who can think about the repercussions of the decisions they make. They can’t control everything, and they can’t see every contingency, but they stop to think about them, and alter their strategies as conditions change.

  25. inessence says:

    Damnit, it is the congress that passes most legislation that affects the economy, I am no Bush fan but put the fucking blame where it belongs…on your congressmen and women that you voted into office. Why keep pounding on the same tired old punching bag??

  26. PrahaPartizan says:

    inessence Says:
    July 27th, 2010 at 10:06 am
    “Damnit, it is the congress that passes most legislation that affects the economy, I am no Bush fan but put the fucking blame where it belongs…on your congressmen and women that you voted into office. Why keep pounding on the same tired old punching bag??”

    Reply:
    Inessence, surely you can remember that old aphorism “The President proposes and the Congress disposes?” Bush requested all of that toxic legislation which has poisoned this nation. None of it was forced on him. He asked for it. About all the Republican Congresses of the low period in the past decade did was to put the requested legislation on steroids and forward it to Bush for signature. That’s the reason Bush gets the blame in this case. Any individual Representative or Senator would have had little impact on affecting the outcome of any of that legislation you decry.

  27. X on the MTA says:

    ehhhh. ok maybe we didn’t create many jobs, but median household income still grew marginally faster than inflation, not to mention the additional purchasing power and asset appreciation that interest rates brought people. Yes, in the end, it might have all been a farce, but you don’t get to repossess people’s good times, all you can do is stick them with a poor FICO score.

  28. Because those with the greatest of judgment will never run for public office…

    “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” ~ Plato

  29. eightnine2718281828mu5 says:

    Capitalism doesn’t guarantee an equitable distribution of the pie.

    If high-functioning laborers have sufficient productivity to provide output for existing demand, there’s no reason to employ low quality labor. And after low quality labor has been released, for all intents and purposes they don’t exist.

    The demand they generate will be insignificant compared to the demand represented by fully employed high productivity/high functioning labor.

    So weak demand signals are just noise in the system; it’s not so much that an evil capitalist system ignores them, it’s that the system sees no evidence of their existence.

  30. curbyourrisk says:

    “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” ~ Plato

    Kind of describes this administration to a “T”. Too bad Plato was not walking amongst us now.

  31. DeDude says:

    When you try to build the economy up using a concept of trickle down that had previously failed and have no logic concepts to support it – it has to end in disaster.

    The got the fact that an economy that is 70% consumption can only grow if you get more money in the hands of the consumer class. What they did not get (or didn’t care about) was that if you get the increased consumption by increased debt rather than increased income for the consumer class – then it is all a house of cards. Last week you showed some slides including one that demonstrated GDP growth with or without subtraction of the Mortgage Equity Withdrawal as people cashed out and spend increased home value during the bobble. The last years of the Clinton boom went down from 4% to 3% GDP growth, but the Bush years basically came down to less than 1% GDP growth after just pulling out that part of the debt. Even the mediocre growth they produced was a fraud as people got their wealth from borrowing.

  32. Mannwich says:

    @curbyourrisk: Um, GWB and the GOP blamed Clinton ALL THE TIME. In fact, many in the GOP still do. Just saying so please STFU.

  33. EAR says:

    Even a slight whiff of defending W stinks like nothing else.

  34. Mannwich says:

    And, by the way, I’m with flip – these problems we are facing now are the result of a collective selfish-me-first-last-always culture that was all too happy to let the politicians that we elected kick the can forward for as long as possible……..

    It’s certainly not all GWB’s fault or any one person’s fault, although he certainly played his role to a “t”.

  35. wally says:

    “do presidents, especially the modern ones, really matter”

    They matter for two reasons.
    First, for the coterie of manipulators with agendas who follow them into power.
    Second, for the face they present.

    They probably actually matter more, for those reasons, than the party they represent.

  36. NoKidding says:

    Cynic_FA,

    Go do some research on who ramped up the Vietnam war. Your memory of Nixon is very flawed.

  37. cheapstocks says:

    It is distasteful that I am actually making a post that is almost in defense of George W. Bush, however lack of context with this stuff can be so stark as to force even me down this path.

    The irony is that many of the same people who will defend this administration for the atrocious performance of the economy over the last 18 months in terms of wages and jobs (not to mention the massive spending that was done to achieve those pathetic results) as a result of problems “inherited,” no doubt are the same that would highlight stats like these without any acknowledgement of what was “inherited” in that case–you know the multi-trillion tech and telecom bubble that was bursting right as the previous guy left office.

    The guy made his share of mistakes, and has taken no shortage of criticism for them. Let’s see what the Big O’s decade looks like, his first 2 years aren’t off to any better start FWIW using a consistent methodology.

    Oh wait, that will be because of what he “inherited” no doubt, LOL. Consistency wouldn’t fit the narrative, so just throw it out.

    P.S. I have to question the accuracy of any chart that shows real GDP and wage growth for those levels for the 1970′s. There is no way in hell that net worths increased nearly 30% in that decade on a real basis–unless everyone’s assets were in gold and oil.

  38. BuffaloBill says:

    Obviously politics play and have a place in economics. Unfortunately, misinterpretation and poor analysis also seem to have a role. Our economic condition is far more complicated than such a simplistic chart demonstrates. That said, I’d go for the overall policies of Harding/Coolidge any day of the week over those of Hoover/FDR. For those unfamiliar with our economic history, while FDR campaigned against Hoover’s policies, following his inauguration, FDR put Hoover’s ideas on steroids. In competing for capital, government has a significant advantage over business. Instead of blaming Bush, let’s blame Hoover.

  39. DeDude says:

    “Why didn’t GWB go around blaming the prior administration for the problems he “inherited”?”

    Maybe because he inherited a budget surplus and a small recession. Kind of tough to whine about being set up for a slam dunk. Furthermore, if he had even mentioned the recession he inherited, he would block his plan to return the “10 trillion dollar” of projected “excess” taxation back to his rich campaign donors. He had to retain the illusion of that surplus long enough to get the tax-cuts through.

    I agree there were certain things he could not control and that congress had power to accommodate or block his proposal (and should take blame for accommodating them). But Bush and his NeoConMen were all full force behind the train-wreck in making when they should have been out trying to stop it.

  40. curbyourrisk says:

    ““Why didn’t GWB go around blaming the prior administration for the problems he “inherited”?”

    Maybe because he inherited a budget surplus and a small recession. Kind of tough to whine about being set up for a slam dunk. Furthermore, if he had even mentioned the recession he inherited, he would block his plan to return the “10 trillion dollar” of projected “excess” taxation back to his rich campaign donors. He had to retain the illusion of that surplus long enough to get the tax-cuts through. ”

    This is exactly what I am talking about. A surplus on paper….is just that. THERE NEVER WAS A SURPLUS…… All you people that continue to shove this crap around really should be embarrassed.

  41. curbyourrisk says:

    ““Why didn’t GWB go around blaming the prior administration for the problems he “inherited”?”

    Maybe because he inherited a budget surplus and a small recession. Kind of tough to whine about being set up for a slam dunk. Furthermore, if he had even mentioned the recession he inherited, he would block his plan to return the “10 trillion dollar” of projected “excess” taxation back to his rich campaign donors. He had to retain the illusion of that surplus long enough to get the tax-cuts through. ”

    This is exactly what I was talking about. A surplus on PAPER is just that. THERE NEVER WAS A REAL SURPLUS. EVERYONE TOUTING IT SHOULD REALLY EMBARRASSED.

  42. scepticus says:

    Isn’t it the case that the lost decade is due to the non financial corporate sector running a large financial surplus?

    Non financial corps rebuild their balance sheets (cisco has what, 30 billion in cash equivalents) after the excesses of the dot com boom. Accordingly the household sector had to be in deficit.

    When the corporate sector runs a deficit, house prices are low because by definition household must be saving to allow the corps to run a deficit. When the situation is reversed, and households run deficits, they spend it on housing and we get an house price boom.

    Does this pattern repeat for previous house price booms and busts since the war?

    ~~~

    BR: I have no idea what you are referring to.

  43. StatArb says:

    Does anyone know the unemployment rate in each decade ??

  44. DeDude says:

    “A surplus on PAPER is just that. THERE NEVER WAS A REAL SURPLUS. EVERYONE TOUTING IT SHOULD REALLY EMBARRASSED”

    I totally agree Bush and his NeoConMen should be absolutely ashamed about all those freaking lies about “trillions of dollar of surplus” that they used to sell the population on their 2001 tax-cuts. In contrast to that Gore acknowledged that these paper surpluses belonged to the social security trust fund and should be used for that.

  45. Thor says:

    curbyourrisk – For someone who doesn’t seem to like when BR goes down the politics path, you sure do like to throw in your two cents on the matter at every opportunity. You’re right up there with Dedude and Franklin buddy.

  46. Thor says:

    THERE NEVER WAS A REAL SURPLUS. EVERYONE TOUTING IT SHOULD REALLY EMBARRASSED.

    So by that logic can we say that there really is no deficit? If not, why exactly?

  47. eightnine2718281828mu5 says:

    Another point re job creation…

    There’s a lot of bullshit being flung by some business execs saying that they’re having trouble finding high-skill labor.

    Anyone holding the position that US workers can’t acquire even very high skill sets in a short period of time needs to review recent history.

    The 90′s saw the rise of the internet; the vast majority of these jobs didn’t exist before, say, 1994, and it would be hard for anyone to make the claim that these were low-skill jobs.

    In spite of the fact that very few people had these skills, the labor market quickly responded to market signals (in the form of rising wages) and within 5 or 6 years, there were plenty of people to fill those jobs.

    The depressing part of all this is that even with something as big as the invention of the internet, which provided millions of high-skill jobs, we still have trouble keeping even skilled labor employed.

  48. DL says:

    “By nearly any conceivable measure, the George W. Bush administration (2000-08) economic performance was the worst of any President since Hoover”.

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Perhaps if one is limiting the analysis to total economic performance for the 8 years of two-term presidents, that might be true. But if one looks at average annual GDP growth rates over Bush’s eight years, or average annual unemployment rates, is it really true that these (average annual) numbers were worse under Bush than any president since Hoover?

    I find that hard to believe.

  49. BDW says:

    The way presidents create or destroy prosperity is through the way they appoint and direct REGULATORS. The last decade was devoid of competent regulators and full of Oral Roberts and Regent graduates. You could (maybe not should) argue that had regulators been aggressive and competent, even the repeal of Glass-Steagal would not have resulted in the hole we are in.

    If you don’t believe how regulatory agencies affect us, see the changes made by the Copyright Office in DMCA rules that were written in 2008.

  50. DL says:

    When it comes to presidents that have piled on the most debt, I suspect that, one way or another, Obama will find his way into the record books.

  51. beaufou says:

    Of every dollar of real income growth that was generated between 1976 and 2007, 58 cents went to the top 1 per cent of households. The political response to rising inequality…was to expand lending to households, especially low-income ones.
    I laugh when I see Bush, but he is not alone.
    It isn’t hard to understand why we are in trouble.
    Add Globalization, accelerating outsourcing, savvy CEOs bent uniquely on profits not products, deregulation and the creation of exotic unproductive products made for profit only for bankers, the same bankers and the same 1 per cent collecting interests on the real economy debt and getting generous donations like bailouts and by starting wars for oil.

    Some say recovery and I laugh too, because those jobs are not coming back, rising inequalities will continue to rise, in fact, while consuming drops, savvy CEOs will feel the need to further outsource to please their investing friends.
    This systemic decay will not stop until society breaks down and then run for cover.

    I already commented on my ideas, I won’t bore you with them one more time.

  52. napster says:

    Blah, blah, blah.

    2000-2010 period was the worst decade for a very simple reason. Spending 5 trillion dollars alone on wars that resulted in no net investment of any long term value whatsoever. All of our surplus capital/wealth got invested in
    1) useless wars that will neither produce greater security in the future nor returns on the investment;
    2) distribution and arbitrage on paper and property whose basis of value is ability of the lower 50% of the population to buy;
    3) non-investment in the economic/transportation infrastructure of the United States that was outsourced to what was more “profitable” in the short-term, ie. the Chinese Economy, bonds and currency in the emerging world markets;

    And now we are surprised?

  53. eightnine2718281828mu5 says:


    But if one looks at average annual GDP growth rates over Bush’s eight years

    Based on this chart that overlays household debt with GDP, the Bush years don’t look so great:

    http://www.economagic.com/mgif/M1740560112031147001192982792.gif

  54. napster says:

    I also agree with BDW who so rightly says : “The way presidents create or destroy prosperity is through the way they appoint and direct REGULATORS. The last decade was devoid of competent regulators and full of Oral Roberts and Regent graduates.”

    125 appointments to the Department of Justice from a little bity religious school is only one of many examples of the insane appointment of incompetents that occurred while little boy George pretended to be president.

  55. DL says:

    eightnine2718281828mu5:

    I did take a look at it.

    We’ll see how the data stacks up after four years of the Messiah (or 8 years, if his contract is renewed).

    But Federal debt matters also.

  56. inessence says:

    @praha…your trite quote “President proposes and the Congress disposes” means nothing, “he requested”, “none of it forced on him”, “he asked for it”, “no individual senator or representative would have no impact”…all generalized rhetorical bullshit on your part. Please, please tell me that none of the democrat fools did not go along with any of this legislation.

  57. pschaeffer says:

    Bush was a disaster…

    However the statement

    “By nearly any conceivable measure, the George W. Bush administration (2000-08) economic performance was the worst of any President since Hoover.”

    isn’t true. A few numbers.

    Inflation

    Carter 10.4% Bush 2.4%

    Mortgage rates

    Carter 10.99% Bush 6.1%

    Productivity

    Carter 0.6% Bush 2.6%

    Anyone else have other numbers?

  58. RW says:

    “Please, please tell me that none of the democrat fools did not go along with any of this legislation.”

    Not sure a comment like that even rises to the level of trite, rhetorical bullshit; sounds more like a schoolyard retort. Something like: “yeah but Timmy did it too” or maybe “I know you are but what am I,” that sort of thing.

    What difference does it make what some Democrats did when their party was out of power? Explain how that counters an argument that Republicans pursued policies _as a party_ (whether in power or not) that did not work as advertised. It is the accuracy of a worldview that is at issue, not specific culpability.

    Personally I have serious doubts some of the policies the Democrats are promoting are going to work either but I have no doubts at all about who’s policies screwed up last time around and am simply astonished that Republican rhetoric has not not materially changed. In fact it has intensified: They want to double down on the same policies that got us where we are now!

  59. mcelus says:

    It seems every President has their flaws, many inherited, many not…most are character flaws and are exacerbated by our political system that has become more inflexible over the last century. Every time we see real “change” it is just one more benefit, one more system, that makes the next President’s moves more difficult to make. So to me those charts are less endemic to the President than they are to structural changes that have been taking place over the last 100 years. Specifically:

    - total debt to GDP (both consumer and gov’t); maybe the 2000 tech bust and subsequent Greenspan response finally broke that camel’s back? Prior to 2007 there hadn’t been more than a blip in the growth of that statistic…mean reversion?
    - deregulation; as Barry points out in his book, removal of G-S act, addition of the CMFA act, various exceptions for large banks…the list goes on as BR so diligently covers.
    - removal of the gold standard or what was left of it by the Nixon administration; once the relationship between store of value and abiltiy to print money was removed we set our economy on track for the “great modernation” but eventually the “great adjustment”?
    - 535 politically connected people continuet to represent more and more Americans and as a result become further detached from reality; the political procees has become even more truncated than 2 ro 4 years by the 24/7 media who have elected officials thinking about their next election poll before they even take the seat

    I can come up with a long list of things that seem to have led us to this point. Myopic decision making is at the root of most. So while the Bush admin. wasn’t doing the country any favors by setting up Medicare part D, nor paying for wars and all of the other talking points that people who despise Bush would use, prior Presidents have hardly less blemishes. Point is that as a democracy, we may have finally reached the proverbial Gladwell tipping point which forces us back to Ozzy and Harriet days. It’s not a such a bad thing if we can manage it like adults. The problem is for the last 30 years, the parents have been letting the teenagers run the household. So beaufou’s Aristotle quote rings true to me…

  60. diogeron says:

    @curbyourrisk

    Your analysis of the Y2K issue is dead wrong. The Federal Reserve was one of my clients during that time period and I can tell you personally that the people at the Fed who took this seriously were not inspired to spend all that time and $ on the issue by Al Gore or anyone else. Part of the reason why we did NOT have the problem when the year came around was because of all the planning and technology upgrades that preceded the year. Of course, like anything else, it is difficult to prove a negative, so some people will say, “See, I told you so. This proves all along that Y2K was a bogus issue since nothing dramatically bad happened.” It’s like an argument about how bad the economy would have been WITHOUT the Recovery (stimulus) Act. You can crunch the numbers and make an argument that it would have been worse without it, but skeptics will continue to claim that “no jobs were created by the stimulus plan” and since unemployment is still at or near 10%, it’s easy to claim “it didn’t work.” Perhaps that’s not a perfect analogy, but I do know this from my personal experience of working with the Fed: If American businesses would have ignored the problem, then some of these doomsday scenarios might actually have done some real damage.

    As for Bush, historical revisionism is common enough by those on all ends of the political spectrum. Having said that, if one is going to argue that black is white and white is black, it’s helpful to wait a few years until most of those who were actually there when it happened are dead.

  61. Rescission says:

    At some point in time I wish this blog could focus on the present and the future and give an honest look at the empty suit occupying the oval office now rather than continuing to bash the last guy, who is long gone.

    This is not meant as a defense of GWB. He was the Jimmy Carter of the Republican Party, a poor communicator, led around blindly by the neo-cons, tried to export democracy, and spent money like a drunken sailor.

    In fairness though, I agreed with his reduction in taxes on dividends (it should be zero) and he took the fight to the radical muslims who murdered our citizens on September 11. He also had the balls to call out the “Axis of Evil” when he named North Korea and Iran the bad dudes that they are turning out to be.

  62. vxpatel says:

    Since 1999, when the DJIA first hit 10,000 we’ve spent almost all of our time either going up a bubble or falling off one, only to end up right where we started. By DOW 10,000 Apple, Google, Microsoft, Intel, the internet, every type of financial innovation, wireless internet, satellite navigation, and almost every other thing we take for granted had already been priced into the market. In fact, we’ve bee firmly lodged in tiny trading range since then. Lost decade? I don’t think so, it’s already been a lost decade, we are looking at 2 lost decades…as a direct result of 2 bubbles. Here’s a look at how this decade plays out in trading days:

    There have been 2,848 trading days since the DJIA first crossed 10,000 on 3/29/09 . Since then it’s been below 9K 426 days, or 15% of the time, it’s been above 11K 779 days, or 27% of the time, it’s been between 9K – 11K for 1,643 days or 58% of the time. Meanwhile, your 401k money has been buying on all those days, when in reality it would have only made sense to purchase on days when the DOW was below 9K or about 426 opportunities to get stocks at a good price. In other words, you had ample opportunity to purchase stocks on a more reasonable basis, than not. So why would you mindlessly purchase stocks each month?

  63. eightnine2718281828mu5 says:


    spent money like a drunken sailor.

    Bush’s most expensive policy decision was ignoring the housing bubble and the financial crisis; we’re still paying for that screw up, yet Republicans want to pretend it’s all Obama’s fault.

    BTW, when did Reagan quit talking smack about his predecessor’s policies?

  64. Casual Onlooker says:

    @eightnine2718281828mu5 stated…

    “The depressing part of all this is that even with something as big as the invention of the internet, which provided millions of high-skill jobs, we still have trouble keeping even skilled labor employed.”

    As a member of the Internet skilled tech force, I can assure you that getting getting people with high skills, and the right experience to do the job is far more difficult than you may think. I know of positions here that have remained open for months.

    Consider the unemployment rates by education level. http://www.deptofnumbers.com/unemployment/demographics/

  65. inessence says:

    @RW..it makes a difference to me how the person I voted for, that occupies a position in congress, votes on each piece of legislation. This is how I determine whether to vote for a candidate, it does not matter if their party is in power or not. Let me be clear, I am not a fan of the vast majority of politicians regardless of party affiliation. What perturbs me are people that justify the boorish behavior of one bought and paid for politician over the another. The two party system has trumped the principles this country was founded upon, and portraying democrat or republican as better than another reveals a high level of ignorance.

  66. hammerandtong2001 says:

    9/11/01

    To George Walker Bush:

    Thank you for your service, Mr. President.

    I will never forget.

    .

  67. wisedup says:

    9/11/01

    reminds me of Rudy Guilani and his love nest — great stuff

  68. curbyourrisk says:

    Diogeren: you said – “Your analysis of the Y2K issue is dead wrong. The Federal Reserve was one of my clients during that time period and I can tell you personally that the people at the Fed who took this seriously were not inspired to spend all that time and $ on the issue by Al Gore or anyone else. Part of the reason why we did NOT have the problem when the year came around was because of all the planning and technology upgrades that preceded the year. Of course, like anything else, it is difficult to prove a negative, so some people will say, “See, I told you so. This proves all along that Y2K was a bogus issue since nothing dramatically bad happened.” It’s like an argument about how bad the economy would have been WITHOUT the Recovery (stimulus) Act.”

    Well I was on the Y2K committee at my company. I wa in charge of reviewing international firms for credit risk and we determined if they weren’t Y2K compliant, we were not doing business with them. Then we realized that most of the companies in South America were failing our test. We needed the South American business for our chemical and agriculture businesses. We deterined to reduce credit instead to these countries. On that magical day…NOT ONE CUSTOMER was compliant. Guess what? not one of those companies shut down, none of their banks stopped lending to them. IT WAS A SHAM. When people realize that, maybe some of the Clinton/Gore were heroes bullshit will finally die. They were excellent at mezmirizing their fans and the “believers” of the pack. In fact Algore loved it so much he continues the work with convincing the weak minded people of the importance to save the earth by buying the products he has invested in. Global warming….please…. Another scam and joke. Obama gonna run with it though…hey, if we pump it up enough…we can get the Y2K effect all over again. Maybe even make him look good, until that one blows up in our face also. It truly is sickening that educated (and I do believe educated people read and write on this blog) fall for stuff like this. PT Barnum was correct!

  69. Patrick Neid says:

    And so the post bubble analysis of the “splat” continues….There’s no way out!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzlG28B-R8Y

  70. [...] the Big Picture’s Barry Ritholtz writes: Just in case you forgot: By nearly any conceivable measure, the George W. Bush administration [...]