President Obama has taken a lot of heat from the right — and some from the left too — over his economic policy.
"The story you hear all the time portrays economic policy as an unmitigated disaster, with President Obama's alleged hostility to business holding back investment and job creation," Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman writes in The New York Times
But not so fast, he says. "It comes as something of a shock when you look at the actual record and discover that growth and job creation have been substantially faster during the Obama recovery than they were during the Bush recovery last decade."
Housing may still be struggling, but business investment is strong, Krugman notes. The economy grew 5 percent in the third quarter, an 11-year high.
"And stock prices, which hit a low point in March 2009, accompanied by declarations from prominent Republican economists that Mr. Obama was killing the market economy, have tripled since then," Krugman explains. "Maybe economic management hasn't been that bad, after all.
"The common theme here is that, over the past year, a U.S. government subjected to constant bad-mouthing, constantly accused of being ineffectual or worse, has, in fact, managed to accomplish a lot. On multiple fronts, government wasn’t the problem; it was the solution."
But Jordan Weissmann, Slate's senior economics correspondent
, says we shouldn't get excited to the point of equating the current economy with that of the 1990s, when growth routinely totaled 3 to 4 percent per year.
"Things are looking up," he says.
"But it's worth keeping expectations in check. Please disregard all references to the 1990s. The good times of the Clinton era were the result of giant productivity gains created by the Internet."
Productivity isn't booming anymore. "As much as the Internet loves to talk about robots, we are not in the middle of another technological renaissance," Weissmann says.
"The U.S. economy is getting hot enough to keep chipping away at the unemployment rate and eventually push up wages a bit — at least until the Federal Reserve feels compelled to raise interest rates. It's a good place to be. You can call it a comeback. But I wouldn't hold your breath for a boom."
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