Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One Term Obama?

There is historical precedent and no, not just Jimmy Carter, but George H.W. Bush. James Pethokoukis:
That's right, the "O" in "Obama" may stand for "One Term." For starters, there's a strong chance that when voters head to the polls on Nov. 2, 2010, they likely will still think the economy is awful. Not much debate about that. (Good chance the Democrats' two-election winning streak comes to an end.) And while voters may be somewhat patient for two years, patient for four years? Really unlikely. If history is any guide at all, voters may still be terribly cranky about the economy when they cast their ballots on Nov. 6, 2012 and thus likely choose the 45th president of the United States -- be it Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal or some other Republican without "Bush" for a last name. Once again a "change" election for an impatient America. The same bad economy that doomed John McCain in 2008 will have sunk Obama, as well.

Here's the political and economic math: Let's assume the current downturn turns out to be as painful as the 1990-91 recession. It's an apt comparison. As Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Gary Stern said earlier this year," The situation we confront today is reminiscent, in several salient ways, of the headwinds environment that prevailed in the aftermath of the 1990-91 recession."

Among those "headwinds" Stern referred to: an imploding real estate bubble, a construction bust, a banking crisis, and a credit crunch. Sound familiar? The nation's gross domestic product fell 3.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 1990 and 2.0 percent in the first quarter of 1991. But even after the economy started expanding again, the unemployment rate kept rising until it hit 7.8 percent in June of 1992 vs. a low of 5.2 percent in June 1990. Recall that in January of 1992, President Bush, running for reelection, told New Hampshire voters that the economy was in "free fall" even though the economy was later shown to have grown at a robust 4.2 percent during the first quarter of that year.
Not that it would a bad thing.

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