A central premise of the Obama campaign is that he inherited an economy in freefall, pulled it back from the brink and set it on the right path.
But consider this: The economy fell into recession more than a year before Mr. Obama took office. By the time he was inaugurated the worst of it was over. The economy was still shrinking but the steepest decline had occurred in the final quarter of 2008. It shrank less in the first quarter of '09, and by June of '09, it began to grow again, marking the official end of the recession. Mind you, this occurred before almost any of the massive stimulus spending Mr. Obama signed into law had taken effect.
Yes, you might say, but in terms of job losses, the worst was still to come when Mr. Obama came in. But that's not so either. More than half the 8.7 million jobs lost as a result of the recession had been lost by inauguration day.
The president inherited an economy still in recession all right, but its recovery came before his policies could take effect. And remember this: deep recessions, including those involving a financial crisis, normally lead to strong, sharp recoveries. But this has been the weakest recovery since World War II.