CRITICAL THINKING FORUM 4 – PRESIDENTS AND THE BUSINESS CYCLE
Returning home, you are anxious to tell Sebastian – the ONE EYED ONE HORNED FLYING PURPLE PEOPLE EATER – that Professor Underwood thinks that you are a totally awesome student, capable of critically thinking and liberating yourself from the bondage of collective ignorance perpetuated by mass media. Opening the door, you find Sebastian dancing about, playing his horn.
Seeing you, he jumps up and down most delighted. “Oh dear earthling friend, I have seen the light of truth, and it comes not from the XX network. Truth cannot be seen, only heard.” Sebastian has you curious, so curious you don’t ask about the pleasant melody he was playing. “What on earth are you talking about Sebastian?” “Truth earthling, objective truth from the source of all truth; pure, clear, absolute truth – and it’s free, free to all believers.” You notice a heap of wreckage that was the TV, so Sebastian can’t have discovered another “news” station on cable. “Sebastian, will you please tell me about this truth you have discovered?” “Remember that business cycle thing you were studying, and depressions, and unemployment and good times when everyone is happy?” You say yes, avoiding clarification. “Well earthling, on the radio Jusht A. Dumbaugh said Dunnocrats are bad for the economy and Redumblicans are good and that whenever something bad happens it’s because of those Dunnocrats which is why Redumblicans are good.” You ask Sebastian what that has to do with the business cycle, to which he responds “I just told you!”
This week I want you to select a couple of Presidents, one Democrat and one Republican, and use at least 5 measures of macroeconomic performance to test Jusht A. Dumbaugh’s thesis. Use timelines for your analysis, and be sure to integrate summary measures into your narrative in support of the patterns you observe. In addition, remember that correlation is not causation. Use economic science to evaluate any specific economic policy that explain observed trends.
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