The bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, and the subsequent recession, revealed that the 1990s boom was, at least to some degree, a mirage, the result of cheap money and, in then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan’s famous phrase, “irrational exuberance.” The recession that followed the tech bust, however, was relatively mild. If that were the worst consequence of the Clinton era, it might seem a small price to pay for a decade of solid growth.
But the Clinton boom, and even some specific Clinton policies, also helped sow the seeds for the far more severe Great Recession of the late 2000s. Mortgage-backed securities and subprime loans weren’t invented in the 1990s, but they expanded greatly during the period, part of a broader “financialization” of the U.S. economy that contributed directly to the severity of the Great Recession. Critics on the right argue Clinton-administration policies promoting increased lending to low-income and minority applicants contributed to the subsequent bubble; critics on the left, including Bernie Sanders, argue that Clinton’s deregulation of the banking industry paved the way for the crisis.
Bill Clinton deserves, at most, a small sliver of the blame for the financial crisis. But he probably doesn’t deserve much credit for the late-’90s boom, either. The reality is, presidents have at best limited influence over the economy. Clinton’s economic policy was determinedly centrist: modest tax increases, free trade (including the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement) and limited government regulation and spending (the latter due in part to the Republican Congress). Those policies no doubt affected the economy, for good or bad. But their impact pales in comparison to that of forces beyond Clinton’s control: the rise of the internet, the entrance of the baby boomers into their peak earning years, the “peace dividend” that came from the fall of the Soviet Union.
That announcement by Hillary solidified my opposition to her.
Why, sometimes they've said as many as six impossible things before breakfast!