New York Times archive: The Reagan Boom - Greatest Ever
working class stiff wrote:
Bingo....like Cheney said...Reagan showed that deficits don't matter.
Reagan, Bush II, and now Trump have shown the hypocrisy of the party of fiscal responsibility. Let a Democrat run deficits and it's 'Oh my God...what about the children'.
Almost everyone knows that the greatest depression the U.S. ever had was in the 1930's. It was known as the Great Depression, and its infamy merits a separate section in economics textbooks. But what was its counterpart? When did our greatest economic expansion occur?
We just had it. And it is still expanding, setting new records with each passing month.
We don't know whether historians will call it the Great Expansion of the 1980's or Reagan's Great Expansion, but we do know from official economic statistics that the seven year period from 1982 to 1989 was the greatest, consistent burst of economic activity ever seen in the U.S. In fact, it was the greatest economic expansion the world has ever seen - in any country, at any time.
The two key measures that mark a depression or expansion are jobs and production. Let's look at the records that were set. Creation of jobs. From November 1982, when President Ronald Reagan's new economic program was beginning to take effect, to November 1989, 18.7 million new jobs were created. It was a world record: Never before had so many jobs been created during a comparable time period. The new jobs covered the entire spectrum of work, and more than half of them paid more than $20,000 a year. As total employment grew to 119.5 million, the rate of unemployment fell to slightly over 5 percent, the lowest level in 15 years. Creation of wealth.
The amount of wealth produced during this seven year period was stupendous - some $30 trillion worth of goods and services. Again, it was a world record. Never before had so much wealth been produced during a comparable period. According to a recent study, net asset values - including stocks, bonds and real estate - went up by more than $5 trillion between 1982 and 1989, an increase of roughly 50 percent.
There are other important measures. Steady economic growth. As we begin the decade of the 1990's, we are in our 86th straight month of economic growth - a new record for peacetime, five months longer than the wartime growth of World War II and only 23 months short of the wartime record set during the Vietnam War in the 1960's. Most experts now predict that it will last right through 1990, and perhaps beyond.
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Income tax rates, interest rates and inflation.
Under President Reagan, top personal income tax rates were lowered dramatically, from 70 percent to 28 percent. This policy change was the prime force behind the record breaking economic expansion. Interest rates and inflation also fell sharply and, so far, have stayed comfortably low - a further indication of the power and pervasiveness of Mr. Reagan's economic policies. The stock market. Perhaps the key indicator of an economy's booms and busts is the stock market, the bottom line economic report card. And here the record has been striking. During the period from 1970 to 1982, the stock market barely moved. The Standard & Poor's index of 500 stocks inched up about 35 percent during that entire period. But starting in late 1982, just as Reaganomics began to work, the stock market took off like a giant skyrocket. Since then, the Standard & Poor's index has soared, reaching a record high of 360, almost triple what it was in 1982.
There were other consequences of the expansion. Annual Federal spending on public housing and welfare, and on Social Security, Medicare and health all increased by billions of dollars. The poverty rate has fallen steadily since 1983.
When you add up the record of the Reagan years, and the first year of President Bush - during which he has faithfully continued Mr. Reagan's economic policies - the conclusion is clear, inescapable and stunning. We have just witnessed America's Great Expansion.
The Reagan economic expansion was not perfect and we will never have one that is. The Federal budget deficits were too high and still are, too many Federal regulations lay unreformed and the trade deficit is worrisome.
In fact, the Reagan expansion may not have been the best economic expansion in history, for every economic expansion must be judged by many criteria. But if we look at the sheer size and immensity of it, at its scope and power, then it cannot be denied that it was the greatest.
The full impact of the powerful economic recovery that President Reagan launched during the 1980s is still unfolding.
Mr. Reagan's expansion provided the financial resources to allow the U.S. to build up the combat capability of its defense forces and to begin blazing the new trail for a protective missile system. This, in turn, convinced the Soviet rulers they could never defeat the U.S., and today the Soviet Union and the U.S. are busily engaged in nuclear disarmament as peace breaks out in country after country throughout the world.
Equally important, it proved beyond doubt to all (except perhaps for a handful of left-wing faculty members in our best universities) that capitalism is superior to Socialism and Communism. Our economy is the guiding beacon for all those countries that are ripping apart the ruthless collectivist regimes that ruined the lives of their people for so long.
One thing the Marxists got right: Economics is a powerful determining factor of history. But Marxists never dreamed it would be the economics of Ronald Reagan and all those capitalists that would prevail in the end.