WSJ survey: Economists give Obama, Geithner failing grades so far

Change we can believe in.

On average, they gave the president a grade of 59 out of 100, and although there was a broad range of marks, 42% of respondents rated Mr. Obama below 60. Mr. Geithner received an average grade of 51. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke scored better, with an average 71…

[E]conomists’ main criticism of the Obama team centered on delays in enacting key parts of plans to rescue banks. “They overpromised and underdelivered,” said Stephen Stanley of RBS Greenwich Capital. “Secretary Geithner scheduled a big speech and came out with just a vague blueprint. The uncertainty is hanging over everyone’s head.”…

The economists’ negative ratings mark a turnaround in opinion. In December, before Mr. Obama took office, three-quarters of respondents said the incoming administration’s economic team was better than the departing Bush team. However, Mr. Geithner’s latest marks are lower than the average grade of 57 that former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson received in January…

The economists didn’t just single out the U.S. for criticism; 70% of participants said the response of governments around the world to the global recession has been inadequate.

At least one of them rates better than Paulson — slightly. Whew! In fairness to The One, we are talking about economists here; the range of “expert” opinion varies as widely as nationalizing the banks and pouring trillions into a stimulus, a la Krugman and Nouriel Roubini, to spending jack squat and letting the bear market devour any company it finds in its path, a la Peter Schiff. When the poles are that far apart, you’re bound to disappoint some people bitterly no matter what you do. On the other hand, what’s his excuse for forgetting to staff the Treasury Department or sending Geithner out to announce his plan when he doesn’t have a plan yet? Reserve a special place for those two missteps in your rapidly bulging “What if Bush did it?” file, please.

Exit fun fact: The same economists put the odds of a depression at one in six. Lower than I’d have guessed, frankly.

Jazz Shaw Jun 22, 2021 6:01 PM ET