Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?

Tyler Durden's picture

The phrase "Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?" and "It’s the Economy, Stupid" have become standards of American election discourse in recent decades. And seemingly for good reason. Although it is rare to unseat an incumbent, poor economic performance seems to play a role. We are less than four months away from the US Presidential election. Financial and economic developments have caused surprise political outcomes around the world from time to time.  UBS took a look back at the first terms of the nine presidents that preceded President Obama to determine if the performance of economic variables had any predictive power in determining the odds of re-election for a second term. The news is not good, from GDP growth to real disposable income, and from unemployment to the Misery Index, it seems the bailer-out-in-chief may just have an uphill battle.


The data suggest that economic growth plays a role in a candidate’s ability to win a second term. Real GDP grew slower under George HW Bush than all the other nine presidents, followed by his son, followed by Ford (when comparing compound annual growth rates). Real disposable personal income was even more definitive, growing at the slowest pace under the three presidents who were unseated (George HW Bush, followed by Ford, followed by Carter). With one more quarter left to be reported before the election, under Obama’s first term as president, real GDP is running slower than any of his predecessors, expecting only George HW Bush, and real disposable personal income is the slowest of any of his predecessors since 1953, running at 1.5% and 0.7%, respectively.

Unemployment also rose over Ford’s and George HW Bush’s presidencies by more than any of the others, and ticked up some under Carter’s.


Inflation has been relatively tame under Obama, but the misery index has risen. However, the misery index rose in 6 of the last 9 presidencies.


Critically though - given our recent chart on Obama Odds vs the S&P - Financial markets are less definitive in predicting the presidential outcome. Of the three candidates that were unseated after their first term, only Ford saw a decline in the S&P over his tenure.


Source: UBS

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CaptFufflePants's picture

It doesn't matter who wins this election since both candidates hold the exact same view on every important topic.

This is the most inconsequential election since the 1950's

camaro68ss's picture

Im just going to close my eyes, plug my ears, and yell O-ba-ma. Maybe if i say it over and over again things will get better.

O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma


Hows that hope and change doing for you?

Precious's picture

Obama deserves first hand experience with the unemployment office.  

Romney will be the first Latter Day Saint Zionist president.

engineertheeconomy's picture

The pretend election is not real at all, everything is staged using props and actors. Besides, the POTUS is only a Hologram used to distract the masses from the real Master of the Universe, our lovely Chair Satan Ben Shalom Bernanke


 Socialism for the Rich is the only fair and equitalble form of government

All others shut the fuck up and resume your slavehood with "positivity"

SheepRevolution's picture

Well, Ben Bernanke isn't really the Master either. The banks who own the Federal Reserve are the masters. Those who created the Fed understood that if you want to create a succesful dictatorship, you can't put the power in one (or very few) individuals. Rather, you need to create a dictatorship where no one person is the dictator, but  the whole political and financial system itself is the dictator if it is to survive.

Everyone knew Adolf Hitler was the dictator. He fell.

Everyone knew Josef Stalin was the dictator. He fell.

Everyone knew Ludvig XVI was the dictator. He fell.

Very few today know that the system as a whole is the dictator. The dictator survives.

Harbanger's picture

So who created the Fed?  The Progressive Hero, Woodrow Wilson.

Harbanger's picture

Obama or Romney? Hmm...Who is less likely to confiscate and re-distribute your PM's after the crash. 

Bindar Dundat's picture

The ballet question will be:  Who do we/you want managing the turmoil for the next four years?



RacerX's picture

I'm not so sure about that they are the same. One is for Socialism/Cronyism. The other would be for Corporatism/Cronyism.

I think you're point that "we're fucked regardless" is well taken though. Although I can't say the Socialism has worked out so well for us so far.

CaptFufflePants's picture

They are both Corporatist. Calling Obama or any president in the last 40 years a Socialist makes you look like a whack job.



bagehot99's picture

I don't think calling him a fascist is unreasonable. He has aligned the large, unaccountable, welfare-corporations with government (think GE, as an example), at the expense of small businesses and individuals that he hates because he can't control them. He's philosophically unsympathetic to principles of limited government and th primacy of free market capitalism.

Romney is more entrepreneurial in mindset, having worked as a turnaround specialist. I agree he's likely to continue major monetary and fiscal decision-making in the same vein as Obama.

A key difference is what type of people will occupy the cabinet, and the executive branch. He won't, for example, put known communists in Czar positions, as this President has done.

His heart is probably 45% in the right place, whereas Obama's is about 3%.

Whatta's picture

aw hell, I call the zerO a fascist all the time, cuz, well, he is!

if we have to have one of the two as our next elrected leaders, I'd have to go Romney Dangerfield, but about not having much of a selection to pick from. Its like going to the meat market at close...there is a gray piece of steak, or a chicken leg with flies on it.

GetZeeGold's picture



If you don't think the election is gonna change anything then let the other guy have a go at least you can yell at a new face.


I can't stand four more years of Obama's hard S'es and that studdering I, III, II, IIII......III II.....

TWSceptic's picture

Socialist, corporatist, fascist, ... ?


All of the above. Welcome to the US.

SheepRevolution's picture

One is for fascism. The other is also for fascism.

There. That's all you need to know.

Ruffcut's picture

I think it is more like farcism, fraudism and denialism.

1100-TACTICAL-12's picture

Civil War this way comes regardless. Too many Takers squeezing the makers. When the Union Pensions go bust the right to work states will have no part in bailing their sorry asses out.

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

Since liberals dont believe in the 2nd amendment, the war shouldnt last long.  Oh, thats right, I forgot.  The Rosie O'Donnells of the world hate guns, but live in gated communities with guards WHO HAVE GUNS!! 

HungrySeagull's picture

There are still ways into gated communities, just ask the people who built the place.

ONO47's picture

What do you mean "not worked out"? He has worked out, golfed, European vacationed.... Oh, I missed the for us part. Never mind.

HungrySeagull's picture

And once took a fat 747 to a date night in NYC, probably totally disrupting and destroying any hope FAA may have had of a orderly approach/departure patterns.

Winston Churchill's picture

The choice is stark.

Collapse in 2013 vs. collapse in 2014.

Take your pick.

I may just vote Obummer  to get it over with.

No,another 12 months stacking would be better.

Ironmaan's picture doesnt matter. The socialists have won. We now have 100 million people or 1/3 of the population on some form of federal assistance. No politician would dare anger the parasites. The only way for things to change is for Atlas to shrug and watch all hell break loose.

razorthin's picture

My parents never needed a mortgage nor a loan to pay for anything else.  Nuff said.

SwimmininNawlins's picture

If I tried to build my own like my Grandfather did, the government would condemn it because of not filing the right paperwork or having right permits to do it

Precious's picture

The first step is for a majority to refuse to insure for medical.  

Takes some courage.  But a real act of defiance.  Like being prepared to die for your country. 

Truely liberating.  Truely emancipating.  

Ironmaan's picture

Its going to take a change in our collective mind set. People have got to stop expecting Uncle Sam to take care of them. Unearned money from the government is welfare. That includes social security when after 4yrs on average you have collected evey dime you paid in. But i digress. People who provide no value and receive check from the govt; corporations who recieve subsidies or any entity taking cash from govt is receiving welfare. It should ALL stop. Every dime provided to some schlub is taken from a hard working individual be it directly through taxes or insidiously stolen by the Feds debasing of our currency. 

Precious's picture

In the end, it may not matter and we may not even care about health insurance.

The quality of care by current medical graduates is probably less than what a determined person can self-learn about their trouble.  

First step anyway is to stay lean.  That solves 90% of health problems. 

buckethead's picture

Brush and floss. Don't forget to brush and floss.

HungrySeagull's picture

We have toothpicks for that.


And dental hygenist for the rest.

rambo1028's picture

Totally agree! I am a nurse. 80% of doctors are a friggin joke. When anyone in my family goes into the hospital, I go and visit frequently to keep an eye on things. Take it from someone who knows, they call it "practicing" medicine for a reason. 80% are 3rd string at best.

Disenchanted's picture



"That includes social security when after 4yrs on average you have collected evey dime you paid in."


Bullshit! And I bet you're not even counting the money your employers paid in matching the amounts you paid. That could have been higher wages, better benefits, etc. for your fine self.


I figure that right now @ 53 years of age I and my employers have paid in around 200 grand on my behalf...There's no way in hell I'm getting that back in 4 years, even at today's rate of SS payments which are tied to bogus CPI numbers. Not to mention the age of retirement to get your full 'benefit' keeps creeping up.

So lets keep this straight, we are talking about money I paid in from my income earning years, money that was taxed. Now you and your fuckwit friends in Congress want to call me getting my money back a "benefit." I'm sorry those fucking assholes sold us down the river, blew the SS money on Imperial militarism, their cronies in the MIC, 'aid' to foreign countries from here to Timbuktoo(most who will happily stab us in the back at every opportunity), nice separate cushy little retirement and health care plans for themselves and all their Federal bureaucrat friends. Trillion$ of handouts(bailouts and subsidies) to banksters and corporations. Plus all the other trillion$ of waste I can't think of now.

But fuck you if you think that I will ever be cowed into thinking that Social Security failing is my fault, or that I am greedy and "entitled" for expecting the return of at least some of the money I've paid in for almost 40 years now...while I followed the rules originally set by the institution of the US Congress. Fuck you, anyone else with the same thought process, and the horses you cracker heads rode in on.



surf0766's picture

The socialists will never win !

engineertheeconomy's picture

@Ironmaan - the other 2/3 are government employees...

Ironmaan's picture

And... they make twice as much as someone in the private sector doing a similar job. 

Shizzmoney's picture

It doesn't matter who wins this election since both candidates hold the exact same view on every important topic.

This is the most inconsequential election since the 1950's

The people who downvote this crucial and honest point, are honestly, part of the problem.

The question is: are you better off than you were 8 years ago? 12? 16? 30?

TBH, I think Americans have been living in an unsustainable dreamland for 30 years (as evidence by the wage graphs that we have seen as stagnant), built on a mountain of fraudulent debt, violence, and outright lies.

This *IS* the most inconsequential election in years.  Nothing is going to change.  I've been saying this since I was a 18 year old during the 2000 election, when this very attractive girl retorted my reasoning that, "Neither asshole cares about me or my family".  Her response: "Wouldn't you at least say you voted for the least of the two assholes (Gore - she was an uber liberal)?"

12 years later, god does it feel good to be fuckin' right!

Seer's picture

"12 years later, god does it feel good to be fuckin' right!"

Or... sometimes ignorance is bliss?

It's a bit of a burden carrying around the weight of knowing what's really going on.  One acts more diligently, consuming the present in order to have some future.  Those who tend for more of the present lose some of the future.  I tend to think that it all nets out.  BUT, I'd rather not have a fucked up future AND be old, so I've opted to steer away from the "partying lifestyle."

I tell people that I'm NOT responsible for ANY asshole.  It is, after all, The SYSTEM! (and I don't endorse it through casting a vote of approval)

vast-dom's picture

And SP is ABOVE 1400. What misery when Hopium springs eternal?¿?

slaughterer's picture

Am I better off now  than 4 years ago?  Of course not, I like to short stawks. 


q99x2's picture

Independent Gary Johnson Everybody lets fuck them.

ZerOhead's picture

My psychologist would say probably not but then again he's been taking an ugly beating on FaceBook lately...

govttrader's picture

is the S&P VWAP algo more profitable than it was 4 years ago?  THAT is the question

francis_sawyer's picture

Don't ask me... Ask Peggy Joseph...

chet's picture

He would have a very tough time winning reelection against almost any viable opponent.  But he will beat Romney.

ZerOhead's picture

Could be a nail-biter Chet.

Romney/Trump 2012 is polling well these days...

chet's picture

That would at least be entertaining.

johnQpublic's picture

it'll still only be a choice between a douchebag and a shit sandwich

thats why i'm ....oh never mind

Anusocracy's picture

A choice between a shit sandwich and a toasted shit sandwich.