Harvard Crushes The "Obama Recovery" Farce With 9 Simple Charts

Tyler Durden's picture

A couple of months back we posted 9 charts that, at least in our minds, debunked the myth of the "Obama Recovery" despite suggestions from the administration that any such efforts were just a futile attempt at "peddling fiction" (our original post: "These Are The 9 Zero Hedge Charts Showing "Obama's Recovery" That Angered The Washington Post"). 

Turns out that Harvard likes to dabble in "fiction peddling" as well:



In a recent study entitled "Problems Unsolved and a Nation Divided" (study can be viewed in its entirety at the end of this post), Harvard University points out that, despite claims of an "Obama Recovery," in fact, the U.S. economy has continued to deteriorate in the aftermath of the "great recession."  Among other things, Harvard attributes the economic deterioration to a "lack of economic strategy, especially at the federal level" and a "political system was once the envy of many nations" but has now "become our greatest liability."  Below are a couple of the key conclusions:

America’s economic performance peaked in the late 1990s, and erosion in crucial economic indicators such as the rate of economic growth, productivity growth, job growth, and investment began well before the Great Recession.


Workforce participation, the proportion of Americans in the productive workforce, peaked in 1997. With fewer working-age men and women in the workforce, per-capita income for the U.S. is reduced.


Median real household income has declined since 1999, with incomes stagnating across virtually all income levels. Despite a welcome jump in 2015, median household income remains below the peak attained in 1999, 17 years ago. Moreover, stagnating income and limited job prospects have disproportionately affected lower-income and lower-skilled Americans, leading inequality to rise.

Meanwhile, Harvard points out that "pessimism about the trajectory of U.S. competitiveness deepened in 2016" for the first time in 5 years. 

Pessimism about the trajectory of U.S. competitiveness deepened in 2016, for the first time since we started surveying alumni in 2011. Fifty percent of the business leaders surveyed expect U.S. competitiveness to decline in the coming three years, while 30% foresee improvement and 20% no change.

Harvard argues that one of the primary causes of the sustained economic downturn has been a lack of an economic strategy from the federal government which has instead chosen to rely exclusively on accomodative Fed policies.

The U.S. lacks an economic strategy, especially at the federal level. The implicit strategy has been to trust the Federal Reserve to solve our problems through monetary policy.

We assume Chuck Schumer agrees with that characterization...


Meanwhile, Harvard points out that the other key affliction of the U.S. economy is a completely broken political system that is "no longer delivering good results for the average American."

The U.S. political system was once the envy of many nations. Over the last two decades, however, it has become our greatest liability. Americans no longer trust their political leaders, and political polarization has increased dramatically. Americans are increasingly frustrated with the U.S. political system. Independents now account for 42% of Americans, a greater percentage than that of either major party.


The political system is no longer delivering good results for the average American. Numerous indicators point to failure to compromise and deliver practical solutions to the nation’s problems. Political polarization has especially made it harder to build consensus on sensible economic policies that address key U.S. weaknesses. It is at the root of our inability to progress on the consensus Eight-Point Plan.

With that, here's a look at some of our favorite charts.

First, the labor force participation rate has continued to decline after the "great recession" and currently stands at the lowest level since 1982.



But the total labor participation rate over the past couple of decades has benefited from women entering the work force.  If you just look at male labor force participation the drop off is even more pronounced.  



The key problem is that job creation has failed to recover to the levels experienced prior to the "great recession."



Meanwhile, labor productivity has collapsed.



And, of course, poor job growth and declining participation rates results in lower real household income.



Per the chart below, the only counties across the country that have experienced real income growth in recent years has been areas where the economy is dominated by oil production...ironically, the industry that Obama has tried hardest to crush (as evidenced by his recent decision to unilaterally halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline).



Moreover, people in the lowest income brackets, those Obama claims to care most about, have suffered the most under his presidency



While stalling in the early 2000's, entitlement spending has soared under the Obama presidency as investment has declined. 



Meanwhile, the Harvard survey finds that all of Obama's major policy initiatives were identified as the key reasons for our under-performing economy, including, a health care, high personal income taxes, high corporate taxes and a burdensome regulatory environment.



And, lastly, this all comes as the American electorate has completely lost all faith in politicians.



Harvard Study on US Economy Under Obama

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The Duke of New York A No.1's picture

The size of Janet/Mario/Abe's checkbooks carries alot more weight than some squiggly charts.

jcaz's picture

"We fucked over some folks......"

Here2Go's picture
Here2Go (not verified) jcaz Sep 15, 2016 3:12 PM

"We fucked over some folks..."


JEWMER??? Un~fucking possible... Because they're just a race of benevolent, oppressed, lollogagging, artists...


I think I read that somewhere... So it MUST be true!

Shocker's picture

The Charts say it all, we are so far from a recovery


Layoff List: http://www.dailyjobcuts.com


Son of Loki's picture

"If you want to keep a recovery, you can keep a recovery. I promise!"


~ Soweto Hussein Nobama

nope-1004's picture

The Harvard chart of Larry Summers' $2 BILLION in losses for the school is the only one missing.


SWRichmond's picture

The oil patch counties are dead now, too.

oops's picture

Sad what Obama has wrought. https://goo.gl/7vUdsL

FEDbuster's picture

"Green shoots, bitchez!!" says  White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest

Backin2006's picture

19% of people trust the Feds most or all of the time!?!? I had no idea there were that many federal employees...

smartmil's picture

To my mind the politicians in Washington don't know how to fix it explains why it hasn't been fixed, but it's not actually the problem.

Ghost of Porky's picture

Instead of charts, Harvard should be releasing Obama's thesis.

glenlloyd's picture

I agree, I'd like to see some attendance stuff and grades and maybe a thesis.

As for the study, we all knew this to begin with, there's nothing new here. None of this should surprise anyone here.

Vatican_cameo's picture


These charts look great if you look at them upside down.  Proof positive that this Administration doesn't know which way is up.

nod2glod's picture

you are confussing know with care.


PS. they don't give a fuxk about you

dunce's picture

This is entirely on the democrat party, obama is just the key power person. Reid, Schumer and Pelosi and the courts  are his enablers. The republicans are to drunk with what little power they have to be an effective opposition plus groveling incompetence and the always present RINOs. Trump does not appear to be the best choice to save our sinking ship of state, but he is in fact our only real choice.

new game's picture

kettle is black. yup coming from the institution that cranks out econ quacks that got us here.

wow-they are all trying to distance themselves from the sources-themselves.

i ask how can they seperate their mind and body from what they did and the consequences?


indygo55's picture

That 2 billion didn't just disappear. It went somewhere. Has there been any investigation where?


photonsoflight's picture

Sure but the investigator committed suicide by hitting himself in the head with a hammer 147 times.

JRobby's picture

I thought Harvard & DC were buds, all happy in the NWO club?

You never know these days? Could it be Nationalism?

GRDguy's picture

Like Greespan, Harvard's just trying to cover themselves.

After all, it's mostly Harvard alumni that's responsible for this mess.

Indirectly, because of their participation in the 90s economic collapse of Russia, 

they're even somewhat responsible for 9/11.

espirit's picture

The 'A' List is getting long.

Add Harvard Alumni.

The_Dude's picture

Harvard is assuming that Obama gives a shit about any of these. (He doesn't. .he's a Marxist)..or they are part of the deception to disguise the real agenda.

If they charted these, then you would recognize that Obama is succeeding in what he set out to do:

Civil strife

Government growth

Destruction of the middle class ( OK...reuse those above)

Class division and warfare

Breakdown of law and order


Oppression of achievement

Distortion of the nuclear family

Destruction of cultural identity


If you need more,  best just to look up the communist manifesto.



Stuck on Zero's picture

Aren't these all things that happen when a crime syndicate takes over a country?

JRobby's picture

Same tactics, do what we say or else. The Mob answers to the Illuminati, or else!

Mark Urbo's picture

Looks more like a prolonged depression to me...

Effing main stream media - especially business media - for lying through their fucking teeth day after day.

Assholes !

JRobby's picture

Business Media?? Is that what you said?

There are these TV channels where idiot clowns dress in business attire and point to fictional graphs and charts and computer generated "prices"  scroll allong the bottom of the screen?

I just thought that was part of the joke?

Colonel Klink's picture

They've just been picked on throughout history by no fault of their own.


ParkAveFlasher's picture

Whoa wait a sec, Harvard?  Are we talking about the same Harvard?

SomethingSomethingDarkSide's picture

Home of Uncle Fucking Ken Rogoff?  Yep.

Son of Loki's picture

<< Whoa wait a sec, Harvard?  Are we talking about the same Harvard? >>

This is the silent majority part of the faculty at Whore-Vord that is actually pretty conservtaive and disdains the failed liberal in office. Look at the authors. They are not the usual left wing tearrist names you see on CNN or hear on npr.

Colonel Klink's picture

So in other words NOT the 100% of jewish "experts" the mainslime media uses?

EDIT:  Someone hasn't been doing their research, or is butthurt.  Wahhhhh

BennyBoy's picture


"sustained economic downturn"

Stop sustaining it and let the big fucking banks fail!


HRH of Aquitaine's picture
HRH of Aquitaine (not verified) BennyBoy Sep 15, 2016 4:28 PM

Stop it with the fines and start putting bankers in jail.

glenlloyd's picture

You mean fucking Ken 'cash is only for crooks' Rogoff?

Offthebeach's picture

If only we more obeyed Harvard economist the last 40 years.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Michael Porter is more like Harvard Business School.  The widest river in the world used to be the Charles, back in the day.  

GUS100CORRINA's picture





pundog's picture

PLEASE EXPLAIN HOW HIGHER INTEREST RATES, HIGHER MORTAGAGE and CAR PAYMENTS, CRASHING PENSIONS , etc.  WILL HELP the middle class.  I WOULD LOVE TO UNDERSTAND HOW THAT WOULD BE BENEFICIAL.  If your monthly payments all doubled in size, your house and car lost half their value,  your IRA lost half its value. Perhaps even your income goes down.  That is what everyone seems to be begging for if the fed raises rates and crashes the market. WHAT is your benefit of higher interest rates? why is everyone so mad about free money? 

steelhead23's picture

You are correct - interest rate policy alone cannot resolve the problem created by a decade of low rates.  Raising rates substantially now would be a bad idea, but eventually they must rise if we wish to have a resilient economy.  Things like margin requirements (increasing things like down payments), mark to market valuations, and requirements for more liquid bank reserves would reduce speculative pressures.  For those viewing the link above, I must say, I disagree with Dean's statement that there are no asset bubbles in our current economy.  With P/E ratios in the high teens, it is fairly obvious that U.S. equities markets are well into bubble territory.  The reasons that interest rates must revert to more usual levels are the need for banks to obtain a net interest margin - that is, the profits they make from ordinary banking (loans), which are safe, as opposed to speculation in the equities markets, which is risky, and to create a bit of headroom for the Fed to respond to the business cycle.  But seriously, reverting to mean now would be downright disastrous.

photonsoflight's picture

I disagree. Raising rates would help all the savers that were responsible. Those higher rates would discourage borrowing and cause people to lighten their debt load thus freeing their money up to actually work for them. As for those with variable rates , well life is a bitch. Those holding government bonds would of course be out of luck as they should be.The prudent would be rewarded and the foolish punished and that is the way it should be, but instead we have this mess. Perhaps disaster is what we need.

Tachyonic's picture

Many governments can buy back bond debt easily after interest rates increase. This allows municipalities to retire debt, freeing up money in their budgets to devote to other projects.  Higher interest rates also lead to lower commodity prices.

Tachyonic's picture

Many governments can buy back bond debt easily after interest rates increase. This allows municipalities to retire debt, freeing up money in their budgets to devote to other projects.  Higher interest rates also lead to lower commodity prices.

Tachyonic's picture

You clearly don't understand the concept of risk.

quartshort's picture

Free money. Sure...

Are you M$B's retarded inbred 2nd cousin? Or, did you go to Harvard?

Curious minds and all that.

adanata's picture


Harvard study? Interesting. Of course we already know we're in the crapper so what are they selling? Rockefeller has 'endowed' Harvard with over $2billion; certainly leaning to pharma/med... but...Harvard? Of course good propaganda has to mixed with 'truth' so it's convincing when the source of that 'truth' says something else. Harvard's a cesspool.

Killdo's picture

nobody I have met from Harvard was very bright