A new study from Georgia Institute of Technology grades U.S. presidents on economic performance. Taylor (2012) analyzed up to 220 years of data, 1789 to 2009, to estimate an economic “grade point average” for each president. Economic performance was measured with the following metrics:
- Economic growth
- Government debt
- Balance of payments
- Income inequality
- Currency strength,
- Interest rates, and
- Stock market returns
Here’s each President’s grade point average, ranked highest to lowest.
I find the study interesting from an economic point of view but it purposely falls short in evaluating the total presidency. As an example, Lincoln gets a C-/D+ on the economic GPA performance scale, ranking him 29th. My opinion — Lincoln’s overall presidency would certainly place him in the top 5. In fact, Siena College Research Institute’s (SRI) Survey of U.S. presidents finds that experts rank Lincoln 3rd, behind Franklin D. Roosevelt, ranked 1st, and Theodore Roosevelt, ranked 2nd.
For a comprehensive review of evidence related to the economic performance of modern presidents see, “Do Republicans Do a Better Job with the Economy? What Does the Evidence Say.”
Mark Zachary Taylor, An Economic Ranking of the US Presidents, 1789-2009: A Data-Based Approach, PS: Political Science & Politics (October 2012) :