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Presidents and the US Economy: An Econometric Exploration

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  • Alan S. Blinder
  • Mark W. Watson

Abstract

The US economy has performed better when the president of the United States is a Democrat rather than a Republican, almost regardless of how one measures performance. For many measures, including real GDP growth (our focus), the performance gap is large and significant. This paper asks why. The answer is not found in technical time series matters nor in systematically more expansionary monetary or fiscal policy under Democrats. Rather, it appears that the Democratic edge stems mainly from more benign oil shocks, superior total factor productivity (TFP) performance, a more favorable international environment, and perhaps more optimistic consumer expectations about the near-term future. (JEL D72, E23, E32, E65, N12, N42)

Suggested Citation

  • Alan S. Blinder & Mark W. Watson, 2016. "Presidents and the US Economy: An Econometric Exploration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(4), pages 1015-1045, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:106:y:2016:i:4:p:1015-45
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20140913
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N42 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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