The headline from the world of politics and economics today seems fairly self-evident: in the wake of the House of Representative's failure to pass a bailout package for Wall Street, the Dow dropped by the largest point margin in any single day in history.
But that number told only half the story. Indeed, much of what transpired on Wall Street and in the halls of politics put a bookend on what now seems to the final - poor - chapter of the Bush administration's economic record.
On Monday, the Dow finished lower than when George W. Bush assumed the presidency: 10,587.59 on January 19, 2001 compared to 10,365.45 at its close on September 29, 2008.
NASDAQ, the American stock exchange, too, was lower now than it was when Bush took office: 2770.38 on January 19, 2001 compared to 1983.73 on September 29, 2008. The dollar exchange with the Euro was lower than when Bush was elected: 1.068 on January 19, 2001 compared to .695 on September 29, 2008.
Some things have risen, but not the good economic indicators. The Consumer Price Index was at 175 on January 19, 2001 and 219 by September 29, 2008. Unemployment, meanwhile, stood at 4.2 percent when Bush came into power. Today, it is at 6.1 percent.
"It's a striking phenomenon," said Robert Shapiro, undersecretary of commerce during the Clinton White House years. "The reckless negligence and mismanagement of the country's financial markets by the White House, the Treasury and the Fed over the last several years has now produced a crisis that has wiped out all of the increase in the market value of America's companies from five years of record corporate profits, strong productivity gains, and reasonable growth. Bush has now run the table on presidential failure."
UPDATE: Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, doesn't disagree with the idea that the economy's struggles are evidence of Bush's failure. He just doesn't think the DOW's fall is the proper measurement.
"I actually consider it a plus,' he said of the tumble. "he stock market was still in a bubble when Bush took office. there is no public interest in an over-valued stock market. We have about 20,000 real measures that we can use to show how bad the economy has performed under President
Bush, the Dow is not one of them.