Are You Better Off Than You Were 4 Years Ago

Per capita GDP relative to 1st quarter of new administration:

Figure 1: GDP relative to 2021Q1 (blue), and GDP four years ago relative to 2017Q1 (orange), in logs. 2024Q1 value is GDPNow implied level based on 3/19 release and GDP estimate as of 3/21. Source: BEA 2023Q4 2nd release, Atlanta Fed, and author’s calculations.

The cumulative growth is similar, although if nowcasts and forecasts hold up, they’ll soon diverge.

And in terms of growth rates, they’re pretty closely matched.

Figure 2: Lewis-Mertens-Stock Weekly Economic Index (blue), and lagged 208 weeks (orange), both in %. Source: NY Fed via FRED.


17 thoughts on “Are You Better Off Than You Were 4 Years Ago

  1. Macroduck

    The news business needs fresh stories – that’s axiomatic. When a story lasts longer than is useful to the business, there has to be a change within the story. That’s just the nature of the news business.

    So while I’m happy at the turn that’s evident in coverage of the presidential horse race, I don’t take it too seriously. We’re starting to see stories like this:

    The story at the beginning of the year was “Democrats need to ditch Biden.” Now it’s “Trump is still leading in (most) polls, but he’s in trouble and now Democrats don’t need to dump Biden.”

    Ninety-one criminal indictments? Big deal. Republicans lose special election after special election? Yawn. Now, suddenly, Trump is in trouble, because…it’s time for a new story.

    Policy is boring. And when one guy is good at policy and the other guy puts babies in cages, talking about policy shows bias, darn it! Horse races, one the other hand, are exciting and not biased!

    “Bellicose Bankrupt is leading by half a percent, with Elderly Incumbent coming up on the outside! The lead is likely to change several times before the final stretch. Isn’t this exciting, folks???”


    1. Moses Herzog (hat tip to Digby’s Hullabaloo)
      “On Tuesday night, Trump easily won all five Republican contests. But he isn’t winning near-universal support from GOP voters, as a significant number of those taking part in the primaries are opting for alternate candidates.

      In Ohio, for example, more than one in five voters (20.8 percent) chose to vote for an option other than Trump. In Arizona, 22.1 percent of voters opted for other choices. Kansas saw nearly a quarter of all voters taking part in the Republican primary voting against Trump, with 24.5 percent choosing someone else. In Illinois, 19.3 percent voted against him.

      Even in Florida, a state with a closed primary — where voters who are not registered as Republicans are barred from taking part — Trump still struggled slightly, with 18.8 percent of GOP voters selecting options other than the presumed nominee.

      Exit polling data out of Ohio’s primary shows that dissatisfaction with Trump as the Republican nominee could seriously impact his chances in the fall. According to an ABC News exit poll, 18 percent of voters in the primary said they wouldn’t be voting for Trump in November, with 10 percent saying they’d back Biden and 8 percent saying they simply wouldn’t vote.

      Looking at the 2020 presidential election results from Ohio and extrapolating the exit poll data from this week’s primary, if 10 percent of voters who selected Trump that year chose to back Biden instead this year, it would mean Biden would win by around 155,000 votes — and that’s not even counting the 8 percent who say they won’t back Trump if he’s still the nominee come November.”

  2. Moses Herzog

    I may have already expressed this in another thread, But I was proud of Biden during SOTU. It made me for a few short moments feel proud as an American, and emotion I don’t get much anymore. I liked how President Biden was able to respond “on the fly” and how he called out the Republicans on their hypocrisy on the immigration legislation (among other Republican hypocrisies). I like how he got his back up Teddy Roosevelt style and showed some anger. Democrats need more of that anger instead of this “gosh golly gee wiz” crap they always do. Bernie Sanders and “AOC” show that anger, and it scores with voters. We need to see more of it from Democrats instead of this Hillary Clinton Pelosi sleep walking crap.

  3. Macroduck

    The era of negative nominal rates is over:

    So far, higher rates and expectations (according to the Business Standard) of a profound change in monetary policy regime has left the yen at its historic low against the dollar:

    Even so, we have to expect that turning down the greatest spigot for carry-trade funding the world has ever seen will change pricing in a variety of markets. For instance, I don’t know if Japan remains as large a source of funding for U.S. commercial real estate as it once was, but it would certainly be interesting if that were the case. Interesting as in “bad”.

    1. Ivan

      The last thing we need is for a big investor to get out of US commercial real estate. Its bad enough just based on increasing Fed rates.

    1. Ivan

      “highly consolidated markets can create fragility, with a single shock or disruption having cascading and outsized effects on the entire supply chain”

      Thankfully the Biden administration has been chipping away at all kinds of monopoly and oligopoly markets to make sure we can convert predatory capitalism with fully functional markets.

  4. Bruce Hall

    It’s sort of like asking if Germany was better off in 1949 than it was in 1945 (hyperbole). COVID screwed the economy with forced shutdowns, layoffs, small businesses failing, and a general malaise. One would hope after those disruptions that the economy would be better off now.

    1. baffling

      covid was hard on the economy because trump really did fail as a leader to get us through the pandemic. it took Biden to get the ship turned around, and improve our outlooks. the future was looking pretty grim with trump running the show, ingesting horse pills and bleach. Biden demonstrated that competence matters.

      1. pgl

        Agreed. But Brucie thinks COVID was akin to the Holocaust as well as the Soviet tanks leveling almost all of Germany. Where – Brucie boy is still hiding in his basement having his mother go out for his groceries.

  5. Steven Kopits

    Compared to four years ago:

    Labor productivity: +6%
    Real median household income: -3%
    Real GDP / Capita: +4%
    Employed full time: Median usual weekly real earnings: Wage and salary workers: 16 years and over: +1%

    The numbers aren’t terrible, but not fantastic, either. On the plus side, 2024 should prove a pretty good year for these sorts of statistics, good for the President’s prospects in November.

  6. pgl

    Moscow shooting: ISIS claims responsibility for terrorist attack on concert venue that killed 40

    A facet of the terrorist organisation ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Moscow concert venue today that left 40 dead, including children, and over 130 injured.Several gunmen opened fire at Crocus City Hall tonight — a concert venue on the western edge of the Russian capital city, where a Picnic concert was slated to take place. Picnic is a popular Russian rock group. The venue was said to be 70% full. It can hold around 6,000 people, and concertgoers were seen on every level of the facility scrambling for cover when the shooters opened fire. ISIS K, a facet of Islamic State, has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack on Telegram, the popular social media messaging app. Amaq, an ISIS-affiliated group, is said to have confirmed the news on Telegram, but ISIS itself has not provided evidence to back up the claims, CNN reported.

    A feel awful for the citizens of Moscow. This terrorism is deplorable. But let’s be clear – Putin is to blame as this war criminal could care less about his own citizens – let alone other people in other lands.

  7. Ivan

    I feel good and I knew that I would (the minute Biden was elected). So good, so good cause I got competent government

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