Farhad, my thesis was the Clinton administration reaped the economic success of fiscal policies initiated by Ronald Reagan. That was the ‘undoubtable’ part. It was Reagan who broke the back of inflation, gave people more incentive to keep what they earned and unleashed the know-how and ingenuity of the American people through deregulation and incentives for investment.
The productivity gains from the personal computer revolution of the 1980’s continued to expand into the 1990’s. Reagan’s military spending in the 80’s contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent ‘peace dividend’ of the 90's.
Kevin D Williamson states in the linked article “The Clinton-era boom was in no small part a continuation of the Reagan-era boom which was, like the performance of the economy under previous and subsequent presidents, only partly a product of the president’s economic philosophy and policies.”
So do presidents steer $18 trillion economies? Yes and no, supertankers don’t turn on a dime but small inputs on the rudder eventually yield a large change in direction. That’s not the same as saying you can’t blame or credit a president for the economy during his term.
Markets are psychological so they can have irrational exuberance or a Black Swan event that ruins everything. One thing a president can do immediately is change the tone of the national conversation. On that score Trump is earning an 11.
Yesterday he invited leaders of the construction, carpenters, plumbers and sheet metal union to the white house to sign the formal US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Here’s what North America’s Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey had to say after the meeting:
“We just had probably the most incredible meeting of our careers with (President Donald J. Trump) he intends to do the work on the issues he discussed on the campaign trail,” McGarvey said. “It was by far the best meeting I’ve had (in Washington).”