Actor, Politician, US President (1911-2004)
Ronald Reagan was an American actor and Governor of California who went on to become the 40th President of the United States in 1981. Reagan was elected to serve a 2nd term as President and left office in 1989. Reagan held an incredibly high approval rating of 68% at the end of his presidency, matching Franklin D. Roosevelt and Bill Clinton.
Reagan’s presidency oversaw major historical events and foreign affairs dominated his exertions. During his time as the most powerful man in the world, he saw the end of the Cold War as the Soviet Union collapsed, the bombing of Libya and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Reagan makes the cut in our famous economists section, however, because he masterminded the USA’s economic recovery during the 1980s. The term ‘Reaganomics’ was coined to refer to the economic policies during Ronald Reagan’s time in office. The US economy was suffering from a prolonged period of stagflation (high unemployment and high inflation) and it was up to Reagan to fix this. Acting as the the proverbial Hollywood hero saving the day, Reagan implemented widespread tax cuts, a decrease in social spending, a rise in military spending and helped to deregulate many domestic markets. Resultantly, over his 2 terms as President, the economy’s inflation rate fell from 12.5% to 4.4% and annual real GDP growth rose to an average of 3.4%.
As a Republican, Reagan favoured the private sector and was against government involvement in the economy. He once proclaimed that: “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it.” His supply-side policies are a testament to the benefits of privatisation and support the private sector’s assertion that tax cuts and deregulation can boost economic growth.
“The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
“Welfare’s purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence.”
“How do you tell a communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”
“My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes.”
– Ronald Reagan