Obama himself has used this excuse. “From the moment we first took action to prevent another Great Depression, we knew the road to recovery would not be easy; we knew it would take time,” he said last week.

But the history of economic cycles suggests that the exact opposite should have happened.

“Typically following a recession, the economy rebounds strongly,” Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker noted in the bank’s quarterly journal.

What’s more, deeper recessions tend to produce strong recoveries.

“You can’t find a single deep recession that has been followed by a moderate recovery,” Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Capital, said back in August 2009.

The 1957-58, 1973-74 and 1981-82 recessions were the sharpest post-war slumps until the Great Recession. From those lows, the economy rose 15%, 18.5% and 19.6% over the next 11 quarters, respectively, vs. just 6.8% for the Obama recovery.

The president and his economic advisers also initially expected a solid recovery this time around.