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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ArrestBobRubin's picture

Thing is, 4 years from now today will be The Good Old Days.

So many wonderful things coming our way, including 30,000 drones. You know, for our safety and stuff.

ZeroAvatar's picture

And the children, don't forget the children.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


And the children, don't forget the children.

But of course, we can never forget The Cheeeeeldren®, the best all-purpose tools in the past fifty years of American politics. They are the perfect prybars, providing enough leverage to force even the most preposterous proposals into legislative reality.

Too bad for them that on the day they turn 18, their value as pawns vaporizes and they become meat for the machine. It's truly a shame that the no sharp edges, knee pads and safety helmets, nail files are a weapon, zero tolerance because even aspirin is a dangerous street drug, foam rubber padded environment imposed upon them has left them woefully unprepared for the "adult" world into which they've been ejected.

The childhood experiences of skinned knees, banged elbows, cut fingers, fistfights, hurt feelings, and failure provide useful learning opportunities. Robbing them of this education only serves to produce a nation of infantilized "adults".


Just as there was no big difference between BushII and Obama.... Mitt and Obama are no different. 

'We are all [Keynsian] socialists now'


Today's politicians are forced to cater to the entitled.

Seer's picture

Yeah, last I looked "socialism" is ALL about bailing out businesses and corporations (not)!

When will people stop tossing around these stupid, meaningless, derisive (used by TPTB to keep us utterly confused) terms?

Totentänzerlied's picture

The reality of socialism and the propaganda are two completely separate things. The propaganda version doesn't exist and never will, it is an intentional distraction from the reality of the modern state. In a fascist economy like our own, corporations are quasi-governmental agencies, in fact analogous to the state-owned concerns of communist economies. The rhetoric and the aesthetics are the only substantial differences.

It is all united under the heading of statist socialism. The terms are neither stupid nor meaningless, they are derisive because they are inconvenient to the status quo. No one outside the political classes, left, right, or center, ever wants to admit to living in a socialist country. The working classes will tell you it's not socialist because they're still not princes, the middle class will tell you it's not socialism because they want to believe their wealth is their own, the academics will tell you it's not socialism because it doesn't satisfy all of the stringent technical requirements to their satisfaction. The existence of the elite - who will gladly explain to you just how socialist everything is - testifies to the absurdity of the entire thing, because they are for once telling the truth.

The fantasies of Alinskyite college students wearing Che t-shirts are not any socialism that has existed or ever will.

When will people learn the difference between the historical meaning of a word and the propaganda-fantasy meaning.

defencev's picture

The working classes will tell you it's not socialist because they're still not princes

You, motherfucker, have no idea what "real socialism" mean. I lived in real socialist state for 35 years and I know what I am talking about. You are the bunch of fucking idiots and you fully deserve what is coming with second Obama term...

I will leave the country if he is reelected.

Seer's picture

I'll repeat it: It's ALL a distraction.

I'm an anarchist I suppose.  No statist am I ("socialist" OR "fascist" based). (and no government is going to keep from ending up this way, contrary to what all the propagandist/ideologist would like for us to believe)

But thanks for playing!

TWSceptic's picture

"Yeah, last I looked "socialism" is ALL about bailing out businesses and corporations (not)!"


Actually these days it is. Talk to any modern day socialist, he will agree. It's because most socialist economists are keynesians, and so it follows their politicial colleges follow the same principles.


BTW corporatism and fascism are both of the same family as socialism: collectivism. The apple doesn't fall...

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

That's a trick question.........right?

Hello? Is anyone in this thingy?

slewie the pi-rat's picture

hey C_D!

when i first saw the headline on the mainPage i saw:

Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Algo?

after grokking the shallowness of the hit piece, er,... article and the comments, i prefer my hallucination

as usual, i might add...

A Lunatic's picture

Hell yes I'm better off because now I'm wide awake, and like that fifty dollar Wall-Mart tent once opened, I ain't gonna go back in the fucking box bitchez............

ArrestBobRubin's picture

Welcome aboard mate, great to have you.

america4me2's picture

Personally, I am LIGHT YEARS BETTER than four years ago.  Why?  Simple.  I LISTENED to Ted Butler, Jason Hommel, and others and I bought all the PHYSICAL SILVER I could get my hands on.  I implore you to take the opportunity NOW to do the same.  Soon, you will be VERY happy you did!

krispkritter's picture

If you count finding ZH and expanding my understanding of markets, money, politics, and that there actually is intelligent life on the Internet embodied in a host of fight club members, then yes...

LMAOLORI's picture




I disagree about inflation being tame have you gone to the grocery store?  Not only have the prices increased but the portions have been downsized and then there is Gas, Electric's gone up, etc.


Further with ZERO prosecutions and repeated printing the MYSERY Index can only get worse.


Financial Fraud Conviction Scorecard



Shizzmoney's picture

Right.  Inflation for shit we don't need, like cars, housewares, iPads, computers, TVs...that hasn't happened (because the price is actually linked to demand).

But for shit we DO need: Healthcare, Food, College Education, and even Guns/Ammo.......inflation has gone through the ROOF.

Zero Debt's picture

True that. Price inflation should be categorized accordingly (discretionary / non-discretionary)

Dagny Taggart's picture

I am only better off now because I stack physical.

Monedas's picture

There's this girl over at TFMR that is a lot like you in so many ways .... except her name is Dagney ?

Dagny Taggart's picture

I noticed as well and she makes a lot of good points. I am at TFMR under the same spelling and avatar I use here.

YesWeKahn's picture

Hey, nonetheless Obama got SP to recover alsot 100%. Of course, the real inflation is far more than that. But who cares, the Bernanke liar still says that there is deflation. Bernank the facking idiot.

Yellowhoard's picture

I will continue to live my life vicariously by living through the spectacular vacations taken by the first family.

And, I will continue to profit financially by betting on gold and silver as a put on responsible governance.

Thank you America for our first affirmative action president!

america4me2's picture

Keep stacking that gold and silver!

bobnoxy's picture

''Affirmative action president''? What do you mean by that?

Yellowhoard's picture

What do I mean by that?

What do you mean by that?

Are you implying that those people who advance by affirmative action are somehow less qualified or deserving than everyone else?

I find your response to my comment to be racist and mean spirited and I think that you owe me and the President Of The United States a sincere apology.

bobnoxy's picture

Oh, okay then. I thought you were going to feed me that typical racist horseshit about how any black person can just walk into Harvard and say, ''Okay, here I am, ready for my free ride. I'll tell you which courses I'll be getting aces in, and since this is a free ride, if you need me, I'll be in my dorm room wearing out my bong and a couple of your finest cheerleaders.

''I, of course, expect to graduate in the top 10% of my class, so put your best people on doing my course work. It is, after all, a free ride all the way through and I don't really have to earn anything.

''From there, a free pass into the state Senate, and then a free pass into the White House too''.

You know, that usual Redneck, asinine nonsense about what affirmative action is, and is not.That is what you had in mind, right?

Of course, you could se how easy it is by getting your kid into Harvard and seeing how long he lasts. I'm guessing he'd get someting way less than Obie did as to grades.

The thing is, I don't even like the guy. But I'm sure I'd like you a lot less. Just too fucking stupid.


Overfed's picture

We'll never know what kind of grades O'bomb-a got in school because his transcripts are a national security secret.

And BTW, affirmative action is bullshit.

ZeroAvatar's picture

I feel sorry for Romney.  It will literally take YEARS to air the stench out of the White House.

Vendetta's picture

He will fill it with the same stench.

Yellowhoard's picture

Golly! Why all the hatin?

Tell you what, I'll provide my daughter's college transcripts and you provide the President's transcripts, they shouldn't be hard to find since all presidents have made them available to the public, and I'll bet you a steak dinner that my daughter scored higher on SAT's, ACT's, and GPA than the president.

BTW, so which is it? Are you saying that Affirmative Action is awesome and something that we should be proud of?

Or, are you saying that I'm being mean pointing out that, by his own admission, an average student that got high a lot somehow made it into Harvard Law School, probably through affirmative action?

I'm lost here but I hope we can be friends.

Zap Powerz's picture

+1 for the well laid trap.

General Decline's picture

Micheal Medved the Jewish Neo con talk show host used to use that question to shut down critics of GW Bush back in the early 2000's. At that time, people could rarely answer "no" thus justifying GW's war mongering and debt spending. Well now the answer to that question is quite different these days. I can't stand to listen to that guy anymore but I'm guessing he doesn't use that as justification for war and debt any more. What a lying neocon, zionist POS.

Dr. Engali's picture

A bunch of background noise. Obummer will have four more years and this country will have been dismantled. Like he said.."I want to fundementally change the face of America"'s coming.

Lednbrass's picture

Looking at the state of affairs, I am increasingly skeptical that this would be a bad thing.

If it blows up and the various segments of the country restructure as they see fit, everyone would be happier. The Left Coast can put all of their money in a pile and divide it equally, New England can devote of all its time and energy to new and inventive ways to defraud everyone else, the South can decentralize to their hearts content and the Midwest can form Heartlandia or split off and join one of the other groups.


Harbanger's picture

If you believe what is happening is coincidence or just bad judgement, you may be right.  If you believe this has been planned, then you're wrong and in for a total govt. surprise.

Carl Spackler's picture


I still bust my hump 60-70 hours a week working.

I continue to pay my income taxes, while half of the country is getting a free ride.

The law applies to me but not to the grand larcenist cronies in Washington and New York (nor does it apply to the ones crossing the border illegally).

This has become a nanny state.

Corruption has popped up everywhere, and I am paying for it but not -in any way- benefitting.

The economy is bigger a piece of garbage now than four years ago.

My 201k has become a 101k.

Frankly, this place has become a banana republic.

Ergo, this country is in dire need of a change in leadership and direction...starting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.



SmittyinLA's picture

Dude you need to adapt to your environment, quit workin, get on disability, move to CA and form a Med Pot "collective", and pocket $10K a week in "non-profit director fees".

Never forget the credo, improvise, adapt, overcome, and while you're at it why not create your own harem at the state's expense and knock up a few dozen bitches too, they can give you a cut of their state subsidies too. 

Get another passport and hide cash offshore.

Get a "part time" government job too. 

Then vote yourself a raise in benefits, more vacation, and an earlier retirement. 




ParkAveFlasher's picture

Spackler for congress!  (/same shit)

NeedleDickTheBugFucker's picture

However, you will receive total consciousness on your deathbed so you've got that going for you which is nice.

Seer's picture

"The economy is bigger a piece of garbage now than four years ago."

The "economy?"  You mean the premise of perpetual growth?  Did you really think that it wouldn't turn out this way?

"Ergo, this country is in dire need of a change in leadership and direction...starting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

Dude!  It's The System*, has NOTHING to do with who TPTB have placed dancing in front of you.

* Go ahead and provide an example of ANY country which isn't becoming a "bigger piece of garbage."  ALL are based on the premise of perpetual growth.  ALL will hit the cliff/wall of decline.  What you're experiencing is the price of having to pay for scarcer and scarcer resources: you'll have your wonderful experience of "fixing" all of this (you'll be responsible though, you won't be able to summons some far-away powers to do your bidding), just be patient... oh, and you'll likely find it no more pleasant that what you're currently experiencing.  Life, it's like that...

fuu's picture

Yes. I got out of debt, got out of the markets, and started boating.

iDealMeat's picture

+1,  many a epiphanies to be had out on the water..


NidStyles's picture

Just be wary of accidents on the water, they are apparently a curse to ZHer's. 

ParkAveFlasher's picture

hey guys, flasher here .  curse lolz calln in from the boat. suny day to look at my shinny eagles OH SHITK wait a sec oh damn thatz deeep.  oh man u guys has scooba ??

NidStyles's picture

nah bra, just let that shit go.

Seer's picture

I'd heard that boats are big holes that you throw money into.  Does that happen with PMs?

But on a more serious note... you can catch and sell fish, so your "domicile" can be more productive than the majority's.  I opted for land; I suppose that my prior sailing experiences suggested I'd be better off this way: waking up in a boat that's pulled anchor, next to a rocky shorelines!, isn't a fun experience (forunately, all I've ever hit was sandy bottoms, well, that and a dock [once!]).

fuu's picture

The PM's go in the big holes...

ZeroAvatar's picture

Yeah.  I had my Silver Phizz melted and formed into an anchor, because of that very same problem. Exceptionally heavy.

Note to self:  Never scimp on anchor rope again.