Real GDP Per Capita — Dead!

Moving Forward — Without Obama

* By: Larry Walker, Jr. *

Why do I get the eerie feeling that we’ve gotten nowhere in the last four years? The answer is because we’ve gone precisely nowhere with Obama. As the chart above displays, on a per capita basis, real gross domestic product has declined by a cumulative -0.20% during Obama’s four-year term (through Q1 2012).

President’s Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both inherited rather weak economies. Each achieved real GDP per capita growth of 1.52% in the first year in office, but by the second year, Reagan’s cumulative GDP had declined to -1.35%, while Clinton’s rate climbed to 4.34%. Yet by the end of the fourth year, Reagan’s policies resulted in cumulative GDP per capita growth of 8.47%, versus Clinton’s 8.19%. Man, whatever Reagan was onto needs to be codified and replayed, over and over and over again. Needless to say, both were overwhelmingly re-elected.

George W. Bush inherited a really crummy economy. After only achieving real per capita growth of 0.08% in his first year, by his fourth, Bush’s policies had grown the economy to cumulative real GDP per capita of 5.06%. And with that, Bush ’43 was easily re-elected.

The policies of Reagan, Clinton and Bush ’43 moved America ‘forward’. That’s what I call progress – moving the economy forward in real and measurable terms. Terms that every American could see, touch and feel in their own billfolds, as real GDP per capita was spread around, lifting many from poverty and mediocrity into new realities.

Why Real GDP Per Capita?

Why measure GDP on a per capita basis? GDP is an aggregate figure which does not consider differing sizes of nations. Therefore, it should be stated as GDP per capita (per person) in which total GDP is divided by the resident population on a given date.

Why use chained dollars? When comparing GDP figures from one year to another, it is desirable to compensate for changes in the value of money – i.e., for the effects of inflation. The factor used to convert GDP from current to constant values in this way is called the GDP deflator. Unlike the Consumer price index, which measures inflation or deflation in the price of household consumer goods; the GDP deflator measures changes in prices of all domestically produced goods and services in the economy.

It is only by comparing cumulative changes in real GDP per capita that we are able to understand whether today’s economic policies are helping or hurting. Furthermore, by making the comparison in 4 and 8 year increments we are able to determine whether to re-elect a POTUS or send him packing, or to continue with the same party affiliation or make a break towards independence. So where do we stand today?

GDP is Dead

Although Barack Obama also inherited a bad deal, his policies made it worse. The economy was declining at a real per capita rate of -1.27% in 2008, but by the end of 2009, Obama turned that into a decline of -4.33%. That’s a fact. Then, by the end of his second year, Obama’s stimulus programs resulted in a slight improvement, as the economy achieved negative cumulative growth of -2.15%. Although similar to Reagan’s second year decline to -1.36%, that’s where all similarities end.

Now in his fourth year (as of Q1 2012), Obama has achieved cumulative real GDP per capita growth of -0.20%. Compared to Reagan, Clinton, and Bush ‘43’s fourth year benchmarks of 8.47%, 8.19% and 5.06%, Obama is clearly a first-term loser. In absolute terms, the economy has gone nowhere under Obama. In terms that really matter, inflation adjusted dollars, as a percentage of the population; the economy hasn’t moved at all under the policies of Barack Obama. We are still below zero as far as real per capita growth – below zero, in spite of $6.3 trillion of additional debt. If Barack Obama is re-elected, he will be the only POTUS in modern history to be reinstated based on driving our economy into the ground.


“If you cry ”Forward” you must be sure to make clear the direction in which to go. Don’t you see that if you fail to do that and simply call out the word to a monk and a revolutionary, they will go in precisely opposite directions?” ~ Anton Chekhov

Forward? Yes, we will be moving forward – without Obama. The distraction of rising student loan interest rates is irrelevant in a shrinking economy. The concepts of a fair shot and a fair share are inapposite and unworthy of further discussion given the circumstances. And this garbage about being the only American around capable of giving a nod to take out a dangerous radical jihadist is just that – garbage.

I care about my children, my grandchildren, my parents, my sisters, my friends, my business, my customers, my community and my neighbors, but I could care less about Afghanistan. Why are Americans still dying in that cesspool? If Obama really wants to take responsibility for all of his actions, then why not include the fact that 69% of U.S. Afghan War casualties have occurred during his 39 month command? Explain that! How did Obama manage the war for only 30% of the time, 3 years out of 10, yet wind up responsible for 69% of the casualties?

Between the trail of blood, death and destruction abroad and his tanking of the economy at home there’s really no reason to grant Obama a second chance. It’s time for Obama to give up the keys, stop impersonating a president, and go home. Only new leadership will move America forward.


Bureau of Economic Analysis, Table 7.1. Selected Per Capita Product and Income Series in Current and Chained Dollars (A) (Q)


Per Capita Product and Income

Jobs, Jobs, Overthrow Libya

BLS: Jobs Growth

The Summer of Plan B

~ By: Larry Walker, Jr. ~

The summer of 2010 was supposed to have been the ‘Summer of Recovery’, but since that failed the Obama Administration has moved on to Plan B, the ‘Summer of Death and Destruction’. Notice how quickly the Obama Administration changes the topic when its achievements go awry. It’s almost like they thought, “Hey our economic policies are failing, so let’s turn to some controversial international topic to divert attention.” “I know, let’s bomb Libya, and point the finger at other allies.” Or, “Hey Osama’s been laid up in that Pakistani safe house long enough, let’s go over there and shoot him to take attention away from our failed economic policies.” But not so fast, let’s stick to tracking the success or failure of the Obama Administration’s economic policies. We’ll review his international policy mishaps later, when its fruits come to bear.

Jobs Growth since the End of the Great Recession

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Great Recession, the longest of any recession since World War II, began in December of 2007 and ended in June of 2009. So where are we today?

From Jobs April 2011

When the recession ended in June of 2009, the American economy had a total of 130,493,000 jobs, and through the end of last month had a total of 131,028,000. That’s an increase of 535,000 jobs over the last 22 months, or average growth of just 24,318 jobs per month since the ‘recovery’ began. It can also be said that the economy has added 768,000 jobs since December of 2010, when the “Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010” was signed into law on December 17, 2010. In effect, an average of 192,000 jobs per month have been added since Conservatives won back the House of Representatives, effectively derailing the Obama Administration’s failed economic policies.

Analytically, any and all jobs growth realized by the American economy since the end of the great recession has come since the December 2010 legislation was signed into law. Thus, all of the Obama Administration’s efforts prior to December of 2010 amount to nothing more than a waste of time and trillions of dollars in deficit-financed government spending. All the jobs growth added since the end of the Great Recession can be attributed directly to conservative economic policies. But we’re not quite out of the woods.

Looking backwards, the American economy had a total of 131,660,000 jobs at the end of April of 2000, versus 131,028,000 in April of 2011. Thus, Americans currently have 632,000 fewer jobs than we had eleven years ago. In addition, since the number of jobs peaked at 137,996,000 in January of 2008 (a record high), we are currently 6,968,000 jobs shy of the pre-recession level. Under the conservative growth rate of 192,000 jobs per month, the jobs market would recover to pre-recession levels within 36 months; while under the Obama Administration’s growth rate of 24,318 jobs per month, recovery would take 24 years. With the U.S. population growing at an annual rate of 1%, or by roughly 3 million per year, you can see that we have a long way to go.

To conclude, conservative economic policies are at least on the right track, although they need to be ratcheted up. Meanwhile the Obama Administration has in effect admitted its domestic economic policy failures and has resorted to bombing a former third-world ally into oblivion. It’s a good diversion, but it won’t win the ill-advised Obama a second term. It’s time to finish the job. It’s time to send Obama packing.


Business Cycle Dating Committee, National Bureau of Economic Research

Establishment Data, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Link to Original Spreadsheet