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Help for the undecided voter, maybe...

By Dian Vujovich

I’m not one of those three people who haven’t made up their minds about which candidate to vote for  for president. I’ve known for months and haven’t been swayed one way or the other by the ads or out-right lies I’ve heard from the other guy’s team about my choice. My friend Steve , however, is still undecided.


We got into it pretty good the other day with me not understanding how someone could not have made a choice by now with only days to go before the election.


That said, Steve is the kind of guy who likes to investigate and review all sorts of economic and social data before deciding pretty much everything from which funds to invest in, art to purchase, cars to drive– and I’m guessing here— even which wine to drink. If we were married he’d have been dead long ago.


Fortunately, we are not.


Steve is also a registered  Independent voter and hasn’t cared much for all the grief he’s gotten about being  both undecided and Independent. Oh well. too bad, but really the election is hours away so get over it and decide already is what I say.


Nonetheless, respecting our differences is paramount in friendships and basically everything  else in life. So, being the great friend of his that I am, when I ran across a piece from The Motley Fool website titled “The Best Presidents for the Economy”, I couldn’t help think that this was the kind of historic data he might find useful as he carefully ponders god knows what else before making his decision.


Morgan Housel authored the piece and in it reviews  five  “economic variables” of past presidents beginning with data from 1900 when Teddy Roosevelt was president to Barack Obama.  The variables include the stock market performances, corporate profits, real GDP per capita, inflation and unemployment rates.


Here is some of what Housel’s research showed:


•.Stock market performance. The listing was calculated based upon the inflation-adjusted, dividend-adjusted performance of the S&P 500. According to the story, the three presidents with the highest average annual real total stock market return were Coolidge, 29.1 percent; Ford, 16.7 percent; and Harding, 16.1 percent.


The three with the lowest average annual real total stock market returns are  G.W. Bush, -6.6 percent; Nixon, -7.6 percent and Hoover, -19.3 percent.


Obama’s return of 15.2 percent was fourth best in this listing of 19 presidents.


• Corporate profits. From the story: ” A word here: Corporate profits were incredibly depressed from the financial crisis in January 2009, when President Obama entered office. That low starting point makes growth through today look massive. If, instead of January 2009, you use January 2008 profit levels as a starting base, average annual corporate profit growth under President Obama is 6.8%.”


The three presidents showing the highest average annual real corporate profit growth are Obama, at 77.9 percent, Harding, 17.7 percent and Clinton, 9.2 percent.


The three with the lowest corporate profit growth were G.H.W. Bush at -9.5 percent, his son G.W.Bush, -17.5 percent and Hoover, -21.3 percent.


To see the full listings on these two topics and those regarding the average annual real GDP growth per capita, the average annual change in Consumer Price Index, and the change in the unemployment rate during each presidency visit:

http://tinyurl.com/8p89bxg .


Hope this helps all the undecideds and the Steve’s  make up their minds.

And whatever they—or you—decide, MAKE SURE TO VOTE.

To read more articles, please visit the column archive.

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