The Economic Records of the Presidents: Party Differences and Inherited Economic Conditions

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1 The Economic Records of the Presidents: Party Differences and Inherited Economic Conditions James E. Campbell University at Buffalo, SUNY Campbell, James E. (2011) "The Economic Records of the Presidents: Party Differences and Inherited Economic Conditions," The Forum: Vol. 9: Issue 1, Article 7. and (2012) The President s Economy: Parity in Presidential Party Performance, Presidential Studies Quarterly, v.42, n.4. (December) pp

2 or A Refutation of Unequal Democracy: The Myth that Democratic Presidents Improve Economic Growth and Income Equality

3 In Unequal Democracy, under Democratic Presidents since 1948, Larry Bartels found that (1.) economic growth was greater (table 2.4), (2.) (3.)

4 In Unequal Democracy, under Democratic Presidents since 1948, Larry Bartels found that (1.) economic growth was greater (table 2.4), (2.) unemployment was lower (table 2.4), (3.)

5 In Unequal Democracy, under Democratic Presidents since 1948, Larry Bartels found that (1.) economic growth was greater (table 2.4), (2.) unemployment was lower (table 2.4), and (3.) income inequality was lower (table 2.1 and figure 2.1) than under Republican presidents.

6 Bartels findings of a partisan difference in macroeconomic performance depends ENTIRELY on NOT properly taking into account the economic conditions inherited by a president from the prior president.

7 Bartels findings of a partisan difference in macroeconomic performance depends ENTIRELY on NOT properly taking into account the economic conditions inherited by a president from the prior president. Republicans have consistently inherited economic messes from Democrats. Bartels wrongly attributes these messes to the Republican successor, thus adding insult to injury.

8 Bartels findings of a partisan difference in macroeconomic performance depends ENTIRELY on NOT properly taking into account the economic conditions inherited by a president from the prior president. Republicans have consistently inherited economic messes from Democrats. Bartels wrongly attributes these messes to the Republican successor, thus adding insult to injury. When the inherited economy is properly taken into account, there are no significant differences in the macroeconomic performances of the presidential parties.

9 To begin Replicating and Updating Bartels Analysis

10 Table 1. Economic Growth and Unemployment, Independent Variables Democratic President (lagged one year) Real GNP per capita Growth Rate (%) 1.39* (0.60) Dependent Variable Unemployment Rate (%) 1.40** (0.35) Constant N Adjusted R Std Error of Estimate Durbin Watson ** p<.01, *p<.05, one-tailed. Std errors are in parentheses. Years in which a Democratic president is accountable for economic conditions are scored 1 and years in which a Republican president is accountable are scored zero. As in Bartels (2008, 33), accountability begins one year after a president takes office and extends one year after he leaves office,

11 Table 2. Real Income Growth Rates by Income Level and Presidential Party, Dependent Variable: Average annual real pre-tax income growth (%) for families at various percentiles of the income distribution Independent Variable Democratic President (lagged one year) Income Percentile 20 th 40 th 60 th 80 th 95 th 2.29** (.93) 1.75** (.73) 1.43* (.66) 1.07* (.62).37 (.73) Constant Adjusted R Std. Error of Estimate Durbin-Watson N= 62. **p<.01, *p<.05, one-tailed.

12

13 NOW, Control for Economic Growth in the Previous Year The Economy does not start from scratch on January 1. The Economy is seamless. What happens at time t depends in part on what happened at time t-1

14 Table 3. Economic Performance Differences Controlling for Lagged Economic Conditions, Independent Variables Democratic President (lagged one year) Lagged Real GNP per capita, prior year Lagged Real GNP per capita, 4 th quarter Lagged Real GNP per capita, 3 rd quarter Included Lagged GNP Prior Year Prior 4 th Qtr Prior 3 rd & 4 th Qtr 1.42* (.62) -.02 (.13).76 (.53) --.31** (.06).42 (.47) ** (.06) ** (.07) Constant Adjusted R N= 62. **p<.01, *p<.05, one-tailed

15 Table 4. Unemployment Differences Controlling for Lagged Economic Conditions, Dependent Variable: Unemployment (%) annual data Independent Variables Democratic President (lagged one year) Without Economic Lag.82** (.27) Lagged Unemployment.67** (.09) Lagged Real GNP per capita, 4 th quarter Lagged Real GNP per capita, 3 rd quarter With 3 rd and 4 th Qtr Economic Lag.21 (.19).82** (.06) ** (.02) ** (.03) Constant Adjusted R N= 62. **p<.01, *p<.05, one-tailed

16 Table 5. Real Income Growth Rates by Income Level and Presidential Party controlling for Lagged GNP Growth Dependent Variable: Average annual real pre-tax income growth (%) for families at various percentiles of the income distribution Independent Variable Democratic President (lagged one year) Lagged Real GNP per capita, 4 th quarter Lagged Real GNP per capita, 3 rd quarter Income Percentile 20 th 40 th 60 th 80 th 95 th.99 (.80).20* (.10).53** (.12).86 (.67).19* (.08).30** (.10).74 (.63).13 (.08).26** (.10).52 (.61).07 (.08).25** (.10).09 (.77) -.01 (.10).18 (.12) Constant Adjusted R Std. Error of Estimate Durbin-Watson **p<.01, *p<.05, one-tailed.

17 Why does taking into account the prior state of the economy in all years eliminate the apparent presidential party difference when a new presidential party takes office?

18 Why does taking into account the prior state of the economy in all years eliminate the apparent presidential party difference when a new presidential party takes office? Because Democratic Presidents left economic recessions to their Republican successors AND this was NOT the case for Republican transitions to Democrats.

19 Table 6A. Economic Conditions Inherited by New Presidential Parties, (INCOMING PARTY: REPUBLICANS) Incoming President and Year Eisenhower 1953 Nixon 1969 Reagan 1981 G.W. Bush 2001 Real GDP Growth in Quarter of the Year Prior to a New Presidential Party s Responsibility Quarter 1 Quarter 2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4 Negative Quarters * YES * 1 YES * YES -1.3* YES In Recession in Last 2 Quarters The data are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis s National Economic Accounts. An asterisk marks a quarter that contains the official onset of a recession as defined by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

20 Table 6B. Economic Conditions Inherited by New Presidential Parties, (INCOMING PARTY: DEMOCRATS) Incoming President and Year Kennedy 1961 Carter 1977 Clinton 1993 Obama 2009 Real GDP Growth in Quarter of the Year Prior to a New Presidential Party s Responsibility Quarter 1 Quarter 2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4 Negative Quarters NO NO NO NO In Recession in Last 2 Quarters

21 Conclusion Democratic Presidents appeared to have better economic record than Republican Presidents BECAUSE Democratic Presidents left their Republican successors with an Economic Mess.

22 Conclusion Democratic Presidents appeared to have better economic record than Republican Presidents BECAUSE Democratic Presidents left their Republican successors with an Economic Mess. In contrast, Republican Presidents did NOT leave their Democratic successors with bad economic conditions.

23 Conclusion Democratic Presidents appeared to have better economic record than Republican Presidents BECAUSE Democratic Presidents left their Republican successors with an Economic Mess. In contrast, Republican Presidents did NOT leave their Democratic successors with bad economic conditions. For whatever reason that was the case, once it is taken into account, there are NO significant differences between the economic records of Democrats and Republicans on Growth, Unemployment, or Economic Inequality.

24

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