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Happy 108th Birthday Ronald Reagan, he trusted the people and believed in the ‘magic of the marketplace’ – Publications – AEI

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AEI Happy 108th Birthday Ronald Reagan, he trusted the people and believed in the ‘magic of the marketplace’ Tomorrow (Wednesday) marks the 108th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s birthday — he was born on February 6 in 1911. Here are a few items to honor and celebrate the birthday of the 40th US president, President Ronald Wilson Reagan (pictured above at an AEI event, year unknown). 1. Amazingly, in the entire history of the United States, there have only been two sitting US presidents who have visited the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) while in office: Ronald Reagan in 1985 and George W. Bush in 2007. After his presidency, Reagan visited the NYSE again in 1992 with Mikhail Gorbachev to mark the exchange’s bicentennial. Shortly after Reagan’s death on June 5, 2004, the New York

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Happy 108th Birthday Ronald Reagan, he trusted the people and believed in the ‘magic of the marketplace’

Happy 108th Birthday Ronald Reagan, he trusted the people and believed in the ‘magic of the marketplace’ - Publications – AEI
Happy 108th Birthday Ronald Reagan, he trusted the people and believed in the ‘magic of the marketplace’ - Publications – AEI

Tomorrow (Wednesday) marks the 108th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s birthday — he was born on February 6 in 1911. Here are a few items to honor and celebrate the birthday of the 40th US president, President Ronald Wilson Reagan (pictured above at an AEI event, year unknown).

1. Amazingly, in the entire history of the United States, there have only been two sitting US presidents who have visited the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) while in office: Ronald Reagan in 1985 and George W. Bush in 2007. After his presidency, Reagan visited the NYSE again in 1992 with Mikhail Gorbachev to mark the exchange’s bicentennial.

Shortly after Reagan’s death on June 5, 2004, the New York Stock Exchange put this tribute to the 40th president of the United States on its website (emphasis added):

On March 28, 1985, President Ronald Reagan made his first of two visits to the NYSE to salute the robust American expansion, as well as the central role of the New York Stock Exchange as the nerve center of entrepreneurial capitalism (see bottom photo above). President Reagan was the first sitting U.S. president to visit the NYSE.

At 9:53 a.m. that morning, President Reagan—amid a roaring ovation—addressed the Exchange community from the bell podium. Flanked by his chief of staff, Donald T. Regan and NYSE chairman and CEO John J. Phelan, President Reagan proclaimed: “We’re bullish on the American Economy. The American economy is like a race horse that’s begun to gallop in front of the field.” Aiming to drive “the bears back into hibernation,” he said, “that’s our economic program for the next four years—we’re going to turn the bull loose.”

Throughout his presidency, the President continued to champion the principles and power of free people competing in free markets. During the first year of his Administration, in September 1981, Reagan communicated his core beliefs to members of the IMF and the World Bank when he stated:

“We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and, ultimately, human fulfillment are created from the bottom up, not the government down. Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefiting from their success – only then can societies remain alive, dynamic, prosperous, progressive and free.

Trust the people. This is the one irrefutable lesson of the entire post-war period, contradicting the notion that rigid government controls are essential to economic development. The societies that have achieved the most spectacular, broad-based progress are neither the most tightly controlled, nor the biggest in size, nor the wealthiest in natural resources. No, what unites them all is their willingness to believe in the magic of the marketplace.

“Everyday life confirms the fundamentally human and democratic ideal that individual effort deserves economic reward. Nothing is more crushing to the spirit of working people and to the vision of development itself than the absence of reward for honest toil and legitimate risk. So let me speak plainly: We cannot have prosperity and successful development without economic freedom; nor can we preserve our personal and political freedoms without economic freedom. Governments that set out to regiment their people with the stated objective of providing security and liberty have ended up losing both. Those which put freedom as the first priority find they have also provided security and economic progress.”

Comment: As I recommended in a 2016 CD post shortly after Trump was elected president, it would be a powerful symbol of his support of our country’s market-based economy and its “nerve center of entrepreneurial capitalism” on Wall Street if he were to visit the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as soon as possible. So far, no visit….

2. Maybe more than any US president, Ronald Reagan had a wonderful sense of humor and he demonstrated his keen wit in many of his public speeches. You can see many great examples of Reagan’s humor in the video below titled “The Best of Reagan.”

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3. Perhaps one of President’s Reagan’s most famous and influential speeches was his “Berlin Wall speech” at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany on June 12, 1987. It was in this speech (at about 12:00 in the video below) that Reagan made his famous and history-changing demand “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” That statement and speech helped changed the course of history, and there’s even an entire Wikipedia entry for “Tear Down This Wall.”

According to the Wikipedia entry, “The speech was also a source of considerable controversy within the Reagan administration itself, with several senior staffers and aides advising against the phrase, saying anything that might cause further East-West tensions or potential embarrassment to Gorbachev, with whom President Reagan had built a good relationship, should be omitted. American officials in West Germany and presidential speechwriters, including Peter Robinson, thought otherwise.” Here’s the full passage of what preceded Reagan’s famous line:

We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall!

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4. Less than two years after Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech, the Berlin wall did fall unexpectedly on November 9, 1989, in what Peter Jennings in the news report below describes as “perhaps the most important announcement made in Central Europe since the end of World War II, certainly since the wall went up in 1961.”

Bottom Line: Happy 108th Birthday, President Ronald Reagan!

Over the years, I’ve featured Reagan frequently on CD, e.g., see these posts from 2018 here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Happy 108th Birthday Ronald Reagan, he trusted the people and believed in the ‘magic of the marketplace’
Mark Perry

Mark Perry
Mark J. Perry is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus. He is best known as the creator and editor of the popular economics blog Carpe Diem. At AEI, Perry writes about economic and financial issues for American.com and the AEIdeas blog.

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