Ranking Presidents – The Ownership Economy

Note… this post has since been updated to take into account more information….

Update here.

Our boy GW likes to say he’s all for the ownership economy, so his supporters should be pleased with this post – I’m going to try to rank Presidents by how they did on promoting ownership. I’m not really sure what there is to own in this economy, but I’m guessing stocks and housing are a good measure of what he had in mind. This post follows my attempts to rank Presidents by Economic Growth, Fiscal Responsibility, and the growth rate of personal income, and is done in more or less the same way.

Regular readers may recall that not long ago, I looked at how the S&P 500, adjusted for inflation, grewEconomic Growth. This is a good measure of the economic activity of the financial markets – as the stock market goes up (in real terms), investors are better off, and retirement plans look better. To summarize results:

Note… in the previous ranking posts, I took a simple average of the Democratic Presidents to get the Democratic average, and likewise for Republicans. It occurs to me that’s pretty dumb… so this time (and from now on) I’m taking averages weighted by years for this type of table. This tends to reduce the influence of Carter, GHW and GW, who are often the low performers in their respective parties.

So what does the graph show? Well, Clinton did best, followed by Ike and then GHW. Yes, Ike. And GHW. Three administrations had negative real growth in the S&P 500… GW, Carter and Nixon/Ford.

What about homeownership? Well, simply looking at appreciation is not a good measure of how well people are doing. A better measure is home ownership. Anyone paying attention may recall it wasn’t that long ago – perhaps two or three years ago – that GW was crowing about how many home owners there were in this country. Here’s a summary of how that figure has changed over the various administrations:

Data doesn’t go back far enough to include Ike, but the top three slots are held by the three Democratic administrations, followed by GW and Nixon/Ford. Home ownership fell under GHW, and even more under the Reagan.

Taking a weighted average of each President’s rank in the two series, we get the following ranking:

Clinton, Ike, and JFK/LBJ lead, followed by a three-way tie between GHW, Carter, and GW. Reagan and Nixon/Ford bring up the rear. Remind me again how the Reagan era were the good times.