Party Influence in Congress and the Economy

Erik Snowberg, Justin Wolfers, Eric Zitzewitz

NBER Working Paper No. 12751
Issued in December 2006
NBER Program(s):   AP   EFG   LS   PE   POL

To understand the extent to which partisan majorities in Congress influence economic policy, we compare financial market responses in recent midterm elections to Presidential elections. We use prediction markets tracking election outcomes as a means of precisely timing and calibrating the arrival of news, allowing substantially more precise estimates than a traditional event study methodology. We find that equity values, oil prices, and Treasury yields are slightly higher with Republican majorities in Congress, and that a switch in the majority party in a chamber of Congress has an impact that is only 10-30 percent of that of the Presidency. We also find evidence inconsistent with the popular view that divided government is better for equities, finding instead that equity valuations increase monotonically, albeit slightly, with the degree of Republican control.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12751

Published: Snowberg, Erik & Wolfers, Justin & Zitzewitz, Eric, 2007. "Party Influence in Congress and the Economy," International Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 2(3), pages 277-286, August. citation courtesy of

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