The economic performance of American presidents tends to deteriorate during their second term:

click for larger graphic

Source:, Jan 21st 2013

Category: Cycles, Markets

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.

14 Responses to “Are Second Terms Unlucky?”

  1. rd says:

    Please keep in mind that there is probably a built in bias due to the political process. Most of these Presidents took over from the opposite party after a recession caused sufficient job losses to make for a very unhappy electorate. Many of the two term presidents followed a one-term president who lost because the eocnomy tanked – they would probably have won a second term if it didn’t tank in their first term. It makes sense that the economy would rebound strongly after a strong jolt which would in turn be harder to sustain itself for another 4 years. At the end of 8 years, it is probably time for a new recession which provides the opportunity for the other party to take over.

  2. BigD173 says:

    Could it be more or less a matter of cycles?

    That is to say, unless the economy performs reasonably well in a president’s first term, there likely won’t be a second term. See, for example, Jimmy Carter.

    And likewise, if a president enjoys a booming economy in his first term, re-election is practically guaranteed. But what are the chances that economic indicators will continue to improve at the same pace (or an even faster pace) in the second term?

  3. BennyProfane says:

    Wait, what? “Real” house prices down on average every second term? Really? I don’t think so. Then again, what are “real” house prices?

  4. BennyProfane says:

    btw, from the impression I got from yesterday (the video and audio I could stand for more than five minutes). B.O. has achieved his goal from the first term, which is to get to a second term, and he will be sitting back and chilling as the Man, handing off the entitlement mess to the next poor sucker. He could care less, it seems. Then, after four years, he goes out and gets really really rich, like the Clintons.

  5. constantnormal says:

    Luckily, the stock market has very little to do with the economy … although the Fed’s helping hand might be helping less (but still helping, I’m sure) over the next four years than it has been over the past four … but if the economy stumbles badly enough, the Fed will leap in to help the financial markets …

  6. GeorgeBurnsWasRight says:

    Beliefs about “second term curse” are a great example of recency error.

  7. M says:

    I wonder what the data would look like if you tossed the outliers, FDR and GWB?

  8. Angryman1 says:

    Clinton and Reagan both had better economic performance for the 2nd term. With the financial system improving and issuing more debt, I suspect more economic growth out of the 2nd 4 years of Obama.

    Yes, I suspect the end game has come. Time for politics to retreat and the Koch withdrawel signal was a sign, time for the economy to grow.

  9. daykevi says:

    ummm, doesn’t really tell us much. Whether or not a President gets reelected depends in large part on how the economy did during the first term. So what you have is a sample of 4 years of good-great economic data, then followed by ????. Stands to reason the 2nd terms will be a mix of good and bad periods – ergo, on average worse than all the good 4 yr periods picked up by re-elections.

    So I fail to see much predictive power in this. The one bright side may be that the economic data from Obama’s first term was pretty middling (or is that muddling?), so maybe we won’t see as much as a decline in the 2nd term, only because there’s not very far to regress towards the mean….

  10. Joe Friday says:

    The “Household Income” metric is falsely skewing the Reagan numbers. Household Income rose, while actual real wages and salaries declined, which is why, as I’ve previously delineated, ‘Household Income’ isn’t a measure of anything.

    Real wages and salaries rose during the Clinton terms.

  11. Greg0658 says:

    I could do more taxes or respond to thread – 2 things a guy just has to do – fund the infrastructure

    1) D vs R – support the team america 50/50 for the trickle down from top control
    2) super corp vs everyone else is not a healthy answer either
    3) GOP control is now 1/2 of 1/3 ie HoR, Sen, WH (w/SCOTUS appts possible)
    4) GOP is the cash party DEM is the labor party

    cash trumps at the card party as long as labor shows up to play
    cash is societies invented incentive to play within some rules

    reset and remind some of historical facts in my lifetime:
    Carter had a nuke shutdown to deal with (as Japan) – once paper is shuffled – work goes on
    Carter had a E vs W hostage event and failed rescue to deal with
    Bush1 Reagan (whats to say) power to cash – crush labor (world round) – capture oil
    Clinton oversaw an economic shift to China – and robotics
    Bush had to deal with previous decade – chads – 911, hense the revenge cry
    Obama1st was dealt a FIREsector effort to prop up the world upon credit – w/previous 3 decades rear view

  12. Greg0658 says:

    I meant to include some ideas to thwart above – I guess* just these 2:
    1) go back to a single currency per nation – corporations must borrow from a nation currency
    2) vote on issues not representatives (generally take back control) hire rep’s to cross t’s and dot i’s (with fire’g ability)

    BUT see: after Inauguration – on the street Q&A

    in this poor girls defense – I sometimes wonder who’s gaming who


    *coda – alas; since a game board with tokens is still required

  13. jjsocrates says:

    Looks like WAY too small a sample space to make ANY kind of conclusion.

    BTW, has anyone seen the article about the camel that predicted 6 out of the last 7 Super Bowls correctly? That’s guy’s a genius!!! (Or lucky)

  14. jjsocrates says:

    Simple concept: Regression to the Mean.