In his speech Wednesday, former President Bill Clinton stressed an important point to those who want to compare today’s economy to the challenges that he faced as president almost 20 years ago:
“The difference this time is purely in the circumstances. President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. Listen to me now. No president, no president — not me, not any of my predecessors — no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years.”
Here is what that situation looks like when expressed in chart form.
Note that the current recovery has proceeded at almost exactly the same rate as the recovery from the 2001 recession, charted in the brown line above. The difference is that we find ourselves in a much, much bigger hole this time, and with major trouble in Europe and even China, we aren’t out of it yet.
AND ONE OTHER THING: Note the four lines that extend farthest to the right, meaning that these four economic downturns took the longest to reverse themselves. Moving from right to left, they occurred in 1981, 1990, 2001 and 2007. In other words, every recovery in the last 30 years has occurred more slowly than its predecessor. Economists can’t reach a consensus on why that is occurring, but the pattern is pretty apparent.
– Jay Bookman