Much has been said by pundits on the Left that the nation’s recent economic dynamism was due in large measure to President Obama’s policies and initiatives. Setting aside that these talking heads happen to be economic illiterates they also have a great deal of animus toward President Trump which further clouds their thinking. It is incumbent on citizens, therefore, to go behind the curtain of demagoguery and propaganda and get at the truth.
On practically every measure that has economic significance President Trump’s economy was decidedly superior to the paltry results left behind by President Obama.
Some notable examples should suffice to make the point.
- Stock Market Performance:
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average when President Obama left office stood at 21,126. In contrast, the closing average on December 31, 2020 registered 30,409 points. Better still, on President Trump’s last day in office, January 20, 2021, the market closed at 31,118. This represented an increase of roughly 47% in the Dow Jones Index.
- The increase in the Index was more than just about points on stock market boards as the total market capitalization of public companies increased by about 89%. When President Obama left office total market capitalization stood at around $27 trillion. In contrast, total market capitalization as of December 31, 2020 came in at $51 trillion. Americans who own stock directly or indirectly through pension funds, 401K’s or mutual funds are the beneficiaries of this dramatic wealth creation.
- Gross Domestic Product:
- The Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a scorecard which represents the value of all goods and services produced across the economy, was superior under President Trump. Under President Obama, GDP averaged $16.375 trillion. Under President Trump, GDP averaged $20.605 trillion despite the onslaught of the Chinese Communist Virus and the draconian lockdown measures instituted by politicians nonplussed by how their actions would affect a “Trump” economy. Nonetheless, America’s GDP improved by 26% under President Trump.
- GDP growth is similarly unsympathetic to President Obama. Growth under President Obama’s regime averaged 1.6%. And, in his last year in office he handed off an economy that was growing at that same meager rate of 1.6%. Under President Trump’s first three years in office, GDP growth averaged 2.5%. [In the President’s last year in office, the economy contracted 3.5% as a direct result of the aforementioned lockdowns]. There is more to this percentage increase than meets the eye for the simple reason that one has to take into account the base amount on which the growth is calculated. In other words, an equal percentage increase on a higher base yields a greater amount than on a lower base. In sum, the growth of the Trump economy, added approximately 26% more real dollars.
- The nation’s balance of payments deficit accumulated over roughly four decades now stands at about $12 trillion. President Obama is responsible for roughly a third of that total or about $4 trillion but he was not alone in his malfeasance. Prior administrations Democrat as well as Republican simply looked the other way as countries, friend and foe alike, excelled at cheating through currency manipulation, intellectual property theft, import tariffs, and prohibited commercial transactions. The accusations that were made of President Trump that he was somehow triggering a “trade war” ignored the fact that the nation was financing a deficit which cost millions of American workers their jobs, depressed wages, closed thousands of factories, contracted R&D, and exported capital to foreign shores. In fact, the United States had been engaged in a trade war long before President Trump came on the scene.
- Sovereign Debt:
- President Obama ran up the country’s debt from $10 trillion to about $20 trillion while in office. President Trump’s Administration ran the national debt to just shy of $27 trillion in his four years. This amount, however, includes the debt effect of $3 trillion of virus-related stimulus expenditures.
- A critical barometer of a nation’s economic health is the ratio of debt-to-GDP. While President Obama was in office this ratio climbed over twenty percentage points. Worse, during the last six years of President Obama’s tenure the debt-to-GDP ratio was near or in excess of 100%. In contrast, President Trump maintained the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio steady at about 104% during his first three years in office. With the advent of the pandemic, however, the nation’s debt-to-GDP ratio went through the roof and as of December 31, 2020 stood at 122%. This makes it the nation’s highest debt-to-GDP ratio since World War II, and places the financial performance of the United States economy in the same ugly neighborhood as the near basket-case that is Italy.
- Unemployment and Wages:
- The unemployment rate under President Obama averaged 7.5%. Under President Trump’s first three years in office the unemployment rate averaged 3.9% for a nearly 50% improvement. The unemployment rate as of February 2020 was 3.5% for a roughly fifty year-low. The underemployment rate – the so-called U6 rate – which measures the unemployed, those that are not looking for work, and those that have had to settle for part-time work never got below 9.2% under President Obama and was at its highest in 2010 at 17%. In contrast, the underemployment rate under President Trump came in at 6.9%. Again, both the unemployment and the underemployment rate deteriorated significantly with the onset of the virus beginning in March of 2020.
- The number of workers seeking work under the Obama Administration averaged 3.6 for every job opening. Under President Trump the number of workers seeking work was on par with the number of job openings. Which is to say that for every one job opening in the nation there was one worker seeking work.
- Wage growth for production workers during President Obama’s term in office averaged 2.3%. Wage growth during President Trump’s first three years in office averaged 2.9% for a 24% increase.
Left unsaid in the sophistry which is dished out by the talking heads on the Left is that President Obama had $700 billion of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) monies authorized to spend with which to stabilize the economy. In the end, Wall Street Banks were the principal beneficiaries of the government’s largesse while approximately ten million homeowners lost their homes.
Facts are stubborn things and citizens owe it to themselves to learn those facts through self-study, reading, and research as a way to immunize themselves from the campaign of disinformation served up by the Left. Rest assured, the disinformants are all around us: in schools, the media, academia, think tanks, government agencies, and most perversely, in the halls of Congress. In the end, an informed citizenry is the best antidote for thwarting the malignancy that is disinformation.