This suggests the entire period from early 1983 to mid-1990 was nothing more than a routine recovery from recession. That is wrong. Real GDP peaked in the first quarter of 1980 at $5,221.3 billion, measured in 2000 dollars. By the first quarter of 1983, real GDP reached $5253.8 billion; the economy had already passed from recovery to expansion. Industrial production hit 59.5 by 1984—well above the peak of 56.6 in 1979.
Reynolds uses this piece of disinformation as part of his attack on Paul Krugman. But let’s look at table 1.1.6 of the National Income and Product Accounts. From 1980QIII to 1981QIII, real GDP rose from $5107.4 billion to $5329.8 billion, which of course, is the recovery that NBER identifies. But Reynolds and other rightwing apologists for the Reagan recession omit this period in their discussion. From 1981QIII to 1982QIII, real GDP fell to $5185.2 billion before we saw the recovery that Paul Krugman discussed.
If one looked at the economy that Bush41 left Clinton to the one that Carter left Reagan, both would be described as economies that were slowly and tentatively recovering from recessions with similar unemployment rates. So if we looked at real GDP growth during the Reagan-Bush41 periods, we could be relatively assured that we would be picking up more of the long-term growth and less of Keynesian features. Real GDP growth during this period was 3% as compared to around 3.5% from thirty years before the Reagan-Bush41 era and 3.7% during the Clinton term. But Alan Reynolds wants to distort this fact and to do so, he has to deny the 1981-82 recession.