Republicans and Recessions

I was thinking about the economy, and what seem like some signs of possible downturn (hopefully things recover smoothly), and it got me to thinking about recessions. So

Here’s a table showing the recessions we’ve had during that time (dates from the NBER):

By my count, a total of 653 months have elapsed since Ike took office. Rep presidents have been in office for 413 of those months, for a total of 63% of the time.

During the 413 months in which Republicans have held the Presidency, the economy has been in recession for 86 of those months, or about 20.8% of the time. During the 240 months in which the President was a Democrat, the economy has been in recession for 7 months, or about 2.9% of the time. Put another way… there is almost an order of magnitude difference between the two percentages. So even if some of these recessions were somehow caused by Democrats (and the only two recessions that were truly inherited -i.e., that was in progress when the President elected and when he took office – was inherited by JFK and Ford (well, Ford wasn’t elected), and even assuming GW manages not to saddle us with a second recession (a feat not pulled off by any two term Republican President in the sample other than Reagan), there clearly is a difference in economic growth rates between the two parties.

Now, some might say… well, Ike, Nixon and Reagan had very different policies. And so did JFK, Carter and Clinton. How can you bunch these people? Well, the response is simple… these same people would have no problems grouping, say, the Dear Leader of North Korea, Castro, and Mao, and stating that its no surprise that these three dictators produced disasters. And yet… the differences between these three dictators are far more pronounced than the differences between Ike, Nixon and Reagan, to say nothing of the differences between JFK, Carter and Clinton.

Whatever the reason, simply put, there is a difference between the economic outcomes of countries that stick the words “socialist” in their names, and countries that follow more or less Western policies. And there is a difference between the economic outcomes achieved in the US under Presidents who call themselves Democrats and those who call themselves Republicans.

The question is why? I have my theories… regular readers have heard them before, over and over. So… I’m throwing it open… what’s your theory? (Put another way… why does cactus first law seem to apply to economic growth as well?)