Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
The political consensus may be that President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy has been weak. The judgment of money in all its forms has been overwhelmingly positive, and that may be the more lasting appraisal.
One year after U.S stocks hit their post-financial-crisis low on March 9, 2009, the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has risen more than 68 percent, and it’s up more than 41 percent since Obama took office. Credit spreads have narrowed. Commodity prices have surged. Housing prices have stabilized.
“We’ve had a phenomenal run in asset classes across the board,” said Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist for Miller Tabak & Co. in New York. “If he was a Republican, we would hear a never-ending drumbeat of news stories about markets voting in favor of the president.”
The economy has also strengthened beyond expectations at the time Obama took office. The gross domestic product grew at a 5.9 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter, compared with a median forecast of 2.0 percent in a Bloomberg survey of economists a week before Obama’s Jan. 20, 2009, inauguration. The median forecast for GDP growth this year is 3.0 percent, according to Bloomberg’s February survey of economists, versus 2.1 percent for 2010 in the survey taken 13 months earlier.
“You have to give them — along with the Federal Reserve – – a lot of credit,” said Joseph Carson, director of economic research at AllianceBernstein LP in New York. “A year ago, there was panic, as well as concern. And a lot of the expectations were not only that we were going to have declines in activity but they would stretch all the way to 2010, if not 2011.”
Since then, monthly job losses have abated, from 779,000 during the month Obama took office to 36,000 last month. Corporate profits have grown; among 491 companies in the S&P 500 that reported fourth-quarter earnings, profits rose 180 percent from a year ago, according to Bloomberg data. Durable goods orders in January were up 9.3 percent from a year earlier. Inflation is tame, and long-term interest rates remain low.
So, who do American voters listen to? Dipshit Democrats worried about women having the right to choose? Republicans so mired in the 19th Century they’re still not certain the Bill of Rights was a good idea?
And who carries the facts of the turnaround to the people? TV talking heads who have a vested interest in news as entertainment, who waste more time on Balloon Boy or Republican mistresses – than legitimate news from main street job fairs?
Wall Street investors have a bit of an edge on real numbers – because they directly affect their income. Even then, most economic news sources still dedicate a significant portion of their air time to naysayers who would have people investing in buggy whips and Halliburton.