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The President as Economist: Scoring Economic Performance from Harry Truman to Barack Obama [Hardcover]

Richard J Carroll
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 6, 2012 1440801819 978-1440801815

The President as Economist: Scoring Economic Performance from Harry Truman to Barack Obama provides eye-opening insights about matters of critical importance for the future of the United States. Author Richard J. Carroll tackles a topic that he has researched and been focused on for more than 20 years, providing impartial assessments and rankings of each presidential administration according to numerous key performance indicators—quantitative data, not subjective opinions. The final chapter combines all of the data to present a numeric score (Presidential Performance Index-PPI) for each administration that allows an overall ranking of the 11 presidents.

The analysis covers 66 years of U.S. economic history, ranging from 1946 through 2011. The earlier administrations of Harry S. Truman through Jimmy Carter set the context against which more recent presidencies are judged. This title will be an invaluable resource for everyone from general readers to students at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels, as well as journalists, lobbyists, and anyone directly or indirectly involved in the political process.

Editorial Reviews


• Provides credible presidential rankings that American citizens can use to make smarter political choices that could affect the nation's ability to extricate itself from the Great Recession

• Presents desperately needed additional analysis—not opinion—on the public political debate to enable Americans to understand the context of our policy-making and be less easily swayed by ideology and platitudes

• Reveals the strengths and weaknesses of both Republicans and Democrats in specific areas

• An appendix provides the official data upon which the rankings are based

"In an election year, a simple measure for evaluating the economic performance of US presidents is alluring. This

effort updates the author's earlier work, An Economic Record of Presidential Performance: From Truman to Bush (CH, Jul'96, 33-6402). Carroll's evaluation method is simple but subjective. . . . Summing Up: Recommended."



Book Description

Considering the performance of U.S. presidents in terms of how their decisions strengthened or eroded the economic health of the nation can provide valuable lessons on the best strategies for managing our economy. Today, with the United States still struggling to recover from the Great Recession, and unprecedented economic challenges stemming from developing first-world nations, smarter policy making and economic action is sorely needed.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (June 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1440801819
  • ISBN-13: 978-1440801815
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,166,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Significant Scope June 26, 2012
Richard Carroll's book gives us historical context, reviews policies, and evaluates the performances of the presidents we elected to influence our future.

The economic indicators he uses are as important in a post depression world as they are today.

Using both averages and trends, he shows how the effects of war, escalating social programs, even 'black swans' can be rated,
Annex 1 clearly details his methodology.

I found this book enlightening.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for younger generation! June 26, 2012
In today's 24-hour non-stop news network media, it is fair to say that media holds a significant power in shaping people's opinion.

This book lays the measurable facts on each president and comes up with a ranking. The ranking quartiles are quite telling although the rankings would have probably showed some variance based on the approach one takes on setting up coefficients for each metric.

Overall, the book is an eyeopener and is particularly relevant for younger generation who did not get to experience most of the former presidents' times. This book takes a decent step towards standardizing each president's performance and comparing them to one another.

Warning: Having read this book, you will most definitely question most of the claims (at the very least) made by Fox news and others and will understand how willing the media is to put hard data aside, come to conclusions from its guts and make an attempt to make it stick by repeating it countless times on multiple platforms. Read the book.
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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but fatally flawed June 26, 2012
The President as economist is an interesting effort to rank presidents based on objective economic criteria in order to evaluate who was best for the US economy. Unfortunately this premise is executed in a very flawed way. The author evaluates a series of static measurements with no understanding of how these impact future events. As such the conclusions of the book are nearly worthless, although there is a lot of interesting information in the pages. The price is also simply too high.

It's widely accepted that government spending does not generate wealth. Government spending is invariably inefficient and leads to misallocation of capital and labor. Government spending generally isn't concerned with creating wealth - it's focus is to advance political ends by rewarding various special interest blocs. It's easy to see historically that countries with a high proportion of government spending become poorer over time. This book does a good job of recognizing this and chooses indicators (at least in part) that reflect the need to keep government spending in check.

Unfortunately, it fails to account for impact over time. The highest rated president is Truman, who scores well largely due to the outstanding fiscal conditions of his presidency. How was he able to maintain budget surpluses? Because SS, Medicare, Medicaid and Unemployment were tiny compared to the behemoth programs which are bankrupting us today.

The next three presidents are Kennedy, Johnson and Eisenhower. Kennedy and Eisenhower did very little on the economy (which is a good thing, as political initiatives tend to be universally bad) and all three benefited from the still small size of the entitlement programs. Johnson, however, was the second worst economic president in history after only FDR.
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