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Economics

Reagan Vs. Clinton: Who's The Economic Champ?

When it comes to honesty and alleged criminal behavior, the differences between Presidents Nixon and Clinton are arguable. But for economic outcomes, the distinction could not be clearer. Nixon's ouster in 1974 came during a period with the next-to-worst economic record of the 13 Administrations since World War II. Only the Carter Presidency had a poorer showing. In contrast, Clinton's second Administration has the best record, except for President Reagan's first term.

The following table, which might be called the Barro misery index (BMI), is a better measure than the original misery index (a term coined by Arthur Okun, an adviser to Lyndon Johnson). It adds gross domestic product and interest rates to inflation and unemployment. And the BMI looks at change over the entire course of each Presidential term, not just the level of say, inflation or unemployment at the time.