Presidential Stock Market Scorecards: Reagan to Obama

white house

President Ronald Reagan

President Reagan served from January 20, 1981 to January 20, 1989. His impact is hard to cover in a concise way, but his policies linger both in the current U.S. economic framework and in the minds of millions. “Reaganomics” is a term that is still used in economic and political conversations.

When President Reagan took office, the headline unemployment rate was 7.5 percent. Unemployment crept as high as 10.8 percent in December and January of his second year as president, but fell to 5.4 percent by the time he left. This second year — 1982 — was the only year the economy really got worse under his watch. Gross domestic product contracted 1.22 percent as unemployment peaked and inflation remained high at 8.4 percent.

However, the rest of Reagan’s presidency was characterized by tremendous economic success. Inflation declined to 3.71 percent in 1983 and averaged 4.4 percent for the eight-year period. GDP growth turned positive and averaged about 3.8 percent per year. Much of this success was attributed to Reagan’s position on taxes and the Job Training Partnership Act of 1982.

Black Monday (October 18, 1987) may have been the most significant stock market disruption to occur during Reagan’s presidency. Equities climbed 54 percent during his terms in office.