According to the latest polls, the economy is the biggest issue for voters. So I ask myself which candidate for president has the most support from economists. And my answer is...um...I don't know.

Now here's the interesting part about that particular piece of ignorance: I follow the news more than most people. So why don't I know the answer to the most important question in this election?

I know all about lapel pins and fist pumps and gaffes and ministers. I have a pretty good idea where the candidates are on most irrelevant issues. But I don't know if independent economists have a consensus on who would be the best president, economy-wise.

The best I could find on the Internet in a quick search was a list of (presumably) Democrat economists supporting Obama and a list of (presumably) Republican economists supporting McCain. Does that really tell me anything?

Obama Economists


McCain Economists


Do you know whose side most independent economists are on, or do you pretend you have that sort of expertise yourself?

I expect some people will leave comments to this post along the lines of "It is obvious that (one of the candidates) has the best economic policy because he will do (whatever) and the other guy won't!" Unfortunately, economics is not common sense. It's a mix of science, calculus, chaos, expectations, and voodoo. In other words, if you think you understand economics, that's proof that you don't.

Here's the question of the day: Who do you think would be the best president for improving the economy, and what makes you an expert on economics?

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Jun 17, 2008
When considering the economics of our country, remember how much our economic rely on other countries. We have a GLOBAL economy now, which means a lot of what happens will depend on what other countries perceive.

And even more importantly for other countries is how our economy impacts them. Anyone remember Chirac, Schroeder, or Blair? Hint: former leaders of countries. I think if you look to see who they were replaced with, you will see a trend that indicates how they are expecting us to move.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
dsg: Everybody likes lower taxes. The problem is that right now the EEUU budget is bigger than what government gets from taxes, and has been doing so for decades, which is why the deficit is so huge right now. Tax cuts are good when there are also budget cuts. A tax cut without a budget cut (like the one McCain is proposing - he is not going to make a budget cut, he has said he is going to freeze the spending on everything - except in the biggest part of the budget, the military) is only populism IMO.
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
I suggest an alternate approach to the question:

1. Find out what most leading economists agree needs to happen in order to turn the economy around.
2. Review the two candidates' platforms and figure out which is most likely to do the above.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
McCain McCain proposed a number of tax reductions and backed away from his pledge to balance the budget by the end of his first term. This is really bad. I'm not an expert of economics, but you don't need to be one to know that you need to pay the bills some day. The current EEUU deficit is a too huge unpaid bill, and paying is important IMO.
Jun 17, 2008
Not an expert on economics, but have noticed that optimism stimulates it. If a majority of people get excited enough about Obama's brand of "change," their wallets will probably show it in increased spending, investments, and entrepreneurism. Hope leads to growth; fear kills it. And right now, it looks like the younger presidential candidate dude represents hope better than the old white presidential candidate guy. Not stating that's fair or accurate, just what I've seen happen before. Like with Bill Clinton for example, before his pants containment issues kind of helped derail things.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
Hi Scott,

If no one really understands economics why would we care about these lists?

I believe McCain is better for the economy. I think the AMT is bad, the death tax is bad and corporate tax law only makes tax lawyers richer. I want lower taxes, therefore I support McCain. I have a BA in math/economics and an MA in economics.

I still fail to see anyone talking about social security reform, which includes Medicare et. al. This is an issue of major importance. It can be made to work, but the longer we wait the more it will hurt. SS will never fail, it is just going to cost the next generation a lot on money to maintain. My favorite doom and gloom economist is Laurence Kotlikoff, he has been talking about SS reform for a long time and even offers solutions. I would pay more attention to any candidate who seriously considered some of Larry's solutions.

-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
it's been my experience that we don't usually hear info with substance like the economy until much later in the presidential race. That's why a lot of independent voters wait until the very end to make up their minds. Because up until now, it's all about stupid stuff like who wears flag labels or who has a short temper.
Jun 17, 2008
The economy is a funny thing; sometime the least important things make the biggest difference. Most people who pay attention to the economy know that certain things that seemingly have nothing to do with the economy, affect the economy. For example, I remember back in 2000 when the economy started going south that one economist said that was an expected result based on the fact that a new person was going to be elected president. Therefore, with a new person being voted in this November, it is not that surprising that the economy is in such flux right now. It does not explain all the economic problems we are having, but it is definitely one of the factors.

Having said that, on the one hand, it seems like Obama would be better for the economy, not necessarily because of his economic policies (which will take well into 2009 to be felt anyway), but because he is seen as a complete break from Bush. McCain is being painted as 4 more years of Bush Economics, so if he is elected, there will be no reason for the economy to change that much.

On the other hand, no one really knows Obama, and if he is elected, that could scare enough of the people who control the money, the stock market and the economy into making the economy even worse. McCain is going to tell us for the next few months that Obama is going to spend us into more debt than we can ever get out of. Since Obama is a relative unknown, people will believe that, which could make things worse.

Therefore, economic policies aside, it is a crap-shoot as to who will be better for the economy.
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