How to account for variation in economic performance across countries and periods? This paper proposes a new substantive and methodological approach. Substantively, we focus on variation in overall performance: the combination of growth, employment, and debt. We construct eight models using these variables and analyze countries' fit to them. Methodologically, we employ fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA). The analysis of 19 OECD countries between 1975 and 2005 fails to support traditional hypotheses about partisanship, central bank independence, trade openness, and corporatism. Instead, different combinations of conditions are conducive to good performance and these differ across periods and countries. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.