Robert Rubin Revisited

Economists and historians will long debate the contrast between the economic policies of the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The Clinton administration took office with remarkably few cards, and the cards it held were dreadful: a long-term legacy of extremely slow economic growth, huge federal budget deficits created by the Ronald Reagan/George H. W. Bush administrations of 1980-1992, a relatively high "natural" rate of unemployment, and growing inflationary pressure.

By contrast, George W. Bush's administration took office with stunningly good cards: a budget in substantial surplus, a trend of rapid productivity growth as the information-technology revolution reached critical mass, and a very low "natural" rate of unemployment.