Obama vs. Reagan in Five Charts
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Barack Obama should identify with Ronald Reagan's experiences when opponents question the current president's first term.
Three key economic indicators that threaten Obama's hopes in November posed similar problems during Reagan's first four years as commander in chief. Reagan ended up winning in one of the largest electoral landslides in U.S. history.
|Ronald Reagan overcame a whole term of economic volatility to win in 1984|
Unemployment, gross domestic product and S&P 500 performance all weigh on investors and voters as they prepare to select a president, so we tracked each indicator's quarterly results during Reagan's and Obama's first-terms.
Quarterly unemployment was above 10% at the end of four straight quarters during Reagan's first term -- the worst quarter-ending rate under Obama has been 9.9% -- but by May 22, 1984, the rate had dropped to 7.8%, or 0.4 percentage points lower than Obama's current rate.
Quarterly gross domestic product growth shows that Reagan oversaw a massive contraction from the first to the second quarter in 1981. When the former president entered office, the United States reported GDP percent change of 8.6% in the first quarter before a dive at -3.2% in the second quarter.
Obama hasn't seen that great of a drop, but he entered at a GDP bottom -- during his first quarter, it contracted by -6.7%, but slowly crept up to 3.9% growth by the first quarter of his second year.
Whereas Obama has sat on relatively flat quarter-to-quarter change in GDP, Reagan, after two straight quarters (fourth quarter of his first year, and first quarter of his second year) that saw contraction by -4.9% and -6.4%, enjoyed a healthy explosion. December of 1982 showed 0.3% growth, and by March of 1984 there was an 8% jump.