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The Outlier Year’s Outliers

February 1, 2021

For many reasons, 2020 won’t soon be forgotten. But it stood out in history because five events occurred that we’ve never encountered and may never see again (though nobody knows the future).

Economic Whirlwind

The decline in U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020’s second quarter – down 31.4 percent – was the worst on record. For comparison, during the Great Recession (2007-09), the largest quarterly GDP dip was 8.4 percent, and the previous worst was a 13-percent drop during the Great Depression in 1932.

Then in the third quarter, GDP grew 33.4 percent as lockdowns ended. It was the most powerful quarterly growth in American history. Worst to first in six months.

Impeachment

President Trump was impeached twice, which is a first. He was also the first person to run for re-election after being impeached. Not only that – he ran uncontested. This is Hollywood stuff and will almost surely be viewed as an abnormality across U.S. history.

Voter Turnout

In the last election, 74.2 million people voted for President Trump, more than any other candidate in history…except for Joe Biden, who received 81.2 million votes and is now President Biden.

No presidential candidate had ever received more than 70 million votes. In 2020, both did.

First in a Generation

At age 78, President Biden is the oldest president to be elected and the first from the “silent generation” (those born 1928-45). After President Eisenhower, every president was either part of the “greatest generation “(born 1901-27) or a baby boomer (born 1946-64).

Relief Now, Debt Later

The $4.8 trillion increase in the national debt last year, much of it for COVID-19 relief, is the largest jump ever. But this record may not last – we could add $5 trillion or more to it this year.

None of these milestones ever happened before 2020. Apart from the debt increase, they may never happen again. What a year.

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