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The Drudge Report recently linked (“OBAMA VS. REAGAN ON GROWTH — NOT EVEN CLOSE”) to a Gateway Pundit blog post featuring the above jobs chart, which was first posted at IJ Review. Now, it is hardly the only or first chart to highlight that the economic recovery after the 1981-82 recession was stronger than the recovery we’ve seen after the 2007-2009 recession. I’ve done a few of them myself. I mean, it’s not a difficult point to argue when economic growth was so much faster in the 1980s. In the 23 quarters since the end of the Great Recession, real GDP is up 14% vs 30% after Really Bad Recession. Or to put it another way, the “Reagan Recovery” was twice as strong as the “Obama Recovery.” The Four Percent Recovery vs. the Two Percent Recovery.
But what conclusions should we draw from that comparison? And how should those conclusions inform both economic policy going forward and responses to future downturns? Now, I am not about to write the definite blog post that answers those questions. Instead, I will ask even more questions: Were the two recessions of a similar kind? And if they weren’t — maybe one was driven by the Federal Reserve, the other by debt-laden balance sheets and financial collapse — does that make a difference in the depth and strength of the subsequent recovery?