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Summary Box: Economic twists and presidents' fates

TOUGH TIMES: After two years in the White House, President Barack Obama is contending with high unemployment and a lukewarm 53 percent approval rating. More than half of Americans disapprove of his handling of the economy.

TOUGH TIMES: After two years in the White House, President Barack Obama is contending with high unemployment and a lukewarm 53 percent approval rating. More than half of Americans disapprove of his handling of the economy.

UNPREDICTABLE: At the same point in his first term, President Ronald Reagan had a lower approval rating than Obama's and faced a higher unemployment rate. But a powerful economic recovery propelled Reagan to a landslide re-election victory in 1984.

OUT OF AMMO: Obama can't benefit as Reagan did from aggressive interest-rate cuts by the Fed. Chairman Ben Bernanke has practically run out of ammunition, having already lowered short-term interest rates to near zero.

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