Regarding their economy’s woes, Americans are more likely to point their finger at former President George W. Bush than to their current leader Barack Obama. According to a Gallup report released on Tuesday, half of the participants believe Obama is at least moderately to blame, while two-thirds lay heavy blame on Bush.
The reason simply may be that the big meltdown happened under Bush. Although in 2002 he tried to set tighter controls over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, he did not get the Congress green light. Also, Bush deeply embraced deregulation, even if to some extent he was following Bill Clinton’s path. His predecessor was actually the one who signed the 1999 law that allowed commercial banks to carry on other financial activities, like investment banking and insurance. Having said that, Bush was solely responsible of something very rarely seen in History: he charged two wars on the credit card while reducing taxes, twice, at the same time.
Today, the economy is picking up and this indeed seems to be helping Obama. The president’s personal approval ratings are quite steady between 51 and 48%, according to several surveys published last spring by Gallup, CNN and Rasmussen Reports.
Overall a number of indicators are improving, like unemployment rate at 7.6%, housing values getting better and gasoline prices going down to a large degree over the last couple of months. As a result, American’s consumer confidence reached its highest level in six years in May, according to the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index.
The million-dollar question is if the U.S. economy will still flow without the Fed’s monetary stimulus. The central bank has been buying $85 billion in bonds every month to keep interest rates low and help the economy, but its Chairman Ben Bernanke has already given a warning: they may start slowing the pace later this year and end it entirely around mid-2014 if the American economy gets back on its feet.
Markets are already nervous. We’ll see how this all play with the popularity rates of Barack Obama.