In 2003 I decided to write a book. I had been writing a regular column for National Review Online about the economy and I wanted to take those columns (and some occasional pieces that I'd written for TCS) and re-work them into a broader argument. Before it had any pages, or a publisher, it had a name - The Bush Boom. I started to throw out some feelers. The publishers loved the title. A sarcastic book, excoriating President Bush for tanking the economy was greatly needed, they told me. Clever title, they twittered knowingly. When I told them that the title wasn't sarcastic; that the data showed that the economy really had started to boom, and that someone needed to tell the world, the conversation invariably and abruptly ended.
At that time, pessimism was the received wisdom. Every news story was a doom-and-gloomer. Democrats started using names like "Herbert Hoover" and words like "depression." But in May of 2003, the President signed a bill which accelerated the income tax cuts which had up until then been on slow phase-in as part of a political compromise with House Democrats. Leading indicators rebounded and as lagging indicator data began to trickle in it became clear to me that we were in the beginning of a boom.
Since 1999, I had been a talk show host. Because I'd worked most of my life either in economics or finance, my show focused largely on matters pertaining to wealth and finance. I'd been reading a lot of supply siders like Steve Forbes, Larry Kudlow, Jude Wanniski, Robert Mundell, Alan Meltzer, Kevin Hassett, James Glassman and Brian Wesbury. In fact, these men were frequent guests on my show. They also generously mentored and tutored me off-air. My show had basically become a forum for advanced one-on-one tutoring from the greatest economic minds in the world, with an audience listening in. I wasn't there to host a show; I was there to raise my game. These guys were optimistic, too. Bigger necks than mine were on the line.
Gut check time - did I really believe my analysis? I did. My wife and I discussed it, and we decided to bet on Bush and his tax cuts. We took out a second mortgage, basically putting our house on the line. If we turned out to be wrong, we were in big trouble. We used the money for two purposes: to save our fledgling and flagging TV production company and to launch a small supply-side publishing company. The Bush Boom would be its first title. The very week that the books first came rolling off the presses, the Commerce Department shocked the world by announcing that in the prior quarter, the economy had grown at slightly more than 7%. That astonishing number was later revised - upward. We also took my wife's 401(k) roll-over out of a money market fund and put it all in equities. The Dow that day was 7,950. As of this writing, it stands at 11,733.Copies of the book eventually made it into the hands of Lynne Cheney. From there to her husband, and eventually to his boss. We didn't lose our house (in fact we got one about three times as large). We didn't lose our yard (in fact, we now have four acres). And we didn't lose our business (in fact, it now supports our family entirely). When the Dow set its record this week, It felt like more than just good news for the country. It felt like a personal triumph.Jerry Bowyer is an economic advisor for Independent Portfolio Partners.