The President as Economist

Scoring Economic Performance from Harry Truman to Barack Obama

by Richard J. Carroll


Considering the performance of U.S. presidents in terms of how their decisions strengthened or eroded the economic health of the nation can provide valuable lessons on the best strategies for managing our economy. Today, with the United States still struggling to recover from the Great Recession, and unprecedented economic challenges stemming from developing first-world nations, smarter policy making and economic action is sorely needed.

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Cover image for The President as Economist

June 2012


Pages 220
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Politics, Law, and Government/Presidential Studies
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This book provides evaluations of American presidents over the course of 66 years of U.S. economic history, using quantitative data to provide credible, defensible answers to controversial questions like "Whose economic policies were more effective, Ronald Reagan's or Bill Clinton's?"

The President as Economist: Scoring Economic Performance from Harry Truman to Barack Obama provides eye-opening insights about matters of critical importance for the future of the United States. Author Richard J. Carroll tackles a topic that he has researched and been focused on for more than 20 years, providing impartial assessments and rankings of each presidential administration according to numerous key performance indicators—quantitative data, not subjective opinions. The final chapter combines all of the data to present a numeric score (Presidential Performance Index-PPI) for each administration that allows an overall ranking of the 11 presidents.

The analysis covers 66 years of U.S. economic history, ranging from 1946 through 2011. The earlier administrations of Harry S. Truman through Jimmy Carter set the context against which more recent presidencies are judged. This title will be an invaluable resource for everyone from general readers to students at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels, as well as journalists, lobbyists, and anyone directly or indirectly involved in the political process.


  • An appendix provides the official data upon which the rankings are based


  • Provides credible presidential rankings that American citizens can use to make smarter political choices that could affect the nation's ability to extricate itself from the Great Recession
  • Presents desperately needed additional analysis—not opinion—on the public political debate to enable Americans to understand the context of our policy-making and be less easily swayed by ideology and platitudes
  • Reveals the strengths and weaknesses of both Republicans and Democrats in specific areas
Author Info

Richard J. Carroll, MA, MBA, is an economist, evaluation specialist, and financial analyst who has published several books and articles about the U.S. economy that cover a range of issues focusing on lessons for current policy. He has extensive international economic experience including work with the World Bank and other international and bilateral organizations in more than 40 countries, providing economic and financial expertise for economic policies and international investment projects. He specializes in evaluating economic programs and investments. Carroll holds bachelor's and master's degrees in economics from Georgetown University; a master's degree in business administration from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; and was a Fulbright Scholar in Germany. His published works include Praeger's An Economic Record of Presidential Performance: From Truman to Bush and NewsGuides™ Top 10 Issues 2011—An Economic Guide to the Top Issues Facing the United States.



"In an election year, a simple measure for evaluating the economic performance of US presidents is alluring. This
effort updates the author's earlier work, An Economic Record of Presidential Performance: From Truman to Bush (CH, Jul'96, 33-6402). Carroll's evaluation method is simple but subjective. . . . Summing Up: Recommended."Choice

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