Features

The legacy of George H.W. Bush

The effects of George HW Bush's economic policies are still felt to this day.

925-Bush-634

George HW Bush: champion of free trade

George HW Bush, who died last week at the age of 94, will be remembered for his "foreign policy triumphs driving Iraq out of Kuwait and smoothing the fallout from the end of the Cold War" but his "economic legacy on taxes, banking and trade reverberate today", says Greg Ip in The Wall Street Journal.

Bush Sr, who served as 41st US president between 1989 and 1993, owed his election in part to the "low inflation and solid growth" of Ronald Reagan's administration, yet it was Reagan's supply-side tax cuts that led to the persistent budget deficits which came to "haunt" his own presidency. During his presidential campaign, Bush famously said, "Read my lips: no new taxes." Two years later, after a huge battle in Congress over the deficit, he was forced to break that pledge.

The move enraged the right and, coupled with the 1990-1991 recession, cost him the 1992 election. For Republicans, his loss to Bill Clinton became a cautionary tale: "inflexible opposition to higher taxes is now integral to the party's identity" and one of the "few things on which Mr Trump and his party's establishment agree".

Another Bush legacy Trump seemed "hellbent on reversing" was Nafta, says Amanda Erickson in The Washington Post. Bush was a "champion of free trade" and the accord was his greatest accomplishment. He signed it shortly before leaving office and it has become the template for dozens of international trade agreements since.

In the end, Bush's fall was rapid, says The Times. His approval ratings crashed from a historic high of 90% in 1991 to 40% in just over a year for his perceived "failure to confront a recession at home while taking decisive action against Iraq". Since then, however, his stock has "risen steadily", says Jacob Heilbrunn in The Spectator. "His son's misadventures helped promote it." The advent of Trump is "sure to bathe it in even more of a nostalgic glow".

Recommended

The US Federal Reserve is about to rein in its money-printing – what does that mean for markets?
US Economy

The US Federal Reserve is about to rein in its money-printing – what does that mean for markets?

America’s central bank is talking surprisingly tough about tightening monetary policy. And it’s not the only one. John Stepek looks at what it all mea…
23 Sep 2021
I wish I knew what contagion was, but I’m too embarrassed to ask
Too embarrassed to ask

I wish I knew what contagion was, but I’m too embarrassed to ask

Most of us probably know what “contagion” is in a biological sense. But it also crops up in financial markets. Here's what it means.
21 Sep 2021
The charts that matter: more pain for goldbugs
Economy

The charts that matter: more pain for goldbugs

Gold investors saw more disappointment this week as the yellow metal took a tumble. Here’s what’s happened to the charts that matter most to the globa…
18 Sep 2021
With the right political will, inflation can be defeated
Inflation

With the right political will, inflation can be defeated

Governments and central banks can easily control inflation, says Merryn Somerset Webb – they just need the will.
17 Sep 2021

Most Popular

The times may be changing, but don’t change how you invest
Small cap stocks

The times may be changing, but don’t change how you invest

We are living in strange times. But the basics of investing remain the same: buy fairly-priced stocks that can provide an income. And there are few be…
13 Sep 2021
Two shipping funds to buy for steady income
Investment trusts

Two shipping funds to buy for steady income

Returns from owning ships are volatile, but these two investment trusts are trying to make the sector less risky.
7 Sep 2021
How to stop recurring subscriptions becoming a drain on your money
Personal finance

How to stop recurring subscriptions becoming a drain on your money

Tracking and pruning subscriptions isn’t as easy as it sounds. Here's how to take charge.
14 Sep 2021