“How is a $118 billion structural deficit, $35 billion in Medicare Part D, and a theoretical end to the Iraq presence forcing Barack Obama to spend nearly $1 trillion in 2018? How is it forcing him to spend roughly $650 trillion more than he takes in in 2012?…The problem with the budget deficit is that, unlike the deficits George Bush ran, the deficits projected under Obama (and beyond) are actually large enough to potentially precipitate a fiscal crisis. If our interest rates suddenly spiked up, perhaps because lenders were worried about the size of our budget deficits, we’d find ourselves in the kind of nasty fiscal jam that regularly plagues third-world countries. The difference is, no one has enough money to bail us out.” — Megan McArdle, on Obama’s budget deficit
Archive for the 'Fiscal Stimulus' Category
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Economist Arnold Kling reports:
Greg Mankiw reports that the yield curve is steep, meaning that long-term interest rates have risen. In my view, this is perfectly rational, and it shows that the short-run effect of the fiscal stimulus is negative, as Jeff Sachs predicted.
This is all based on a Keynesian type of macro analysis. As we know, most of the stimulus spending does not take place until next year and beyond, so the short-run gains are puny. On the other hand, the big increase in the projected deficit creates the expectation of higher interest rates, which raises interest rates now. These higher interest rates serve to weaken the economy.
According to this standard analysis, the stimulus is going to hurt GDP now, when we could use the most help. Much of the spending will kick in a year or more from now, with multiplier effects following afterward, when the economy will need little, if any, stimulus.
This is the flaw with using spending rather than tax cuts as a stimulus. The lags are longer when you use spending.
The full post can be found here.
“Today’s decision by the S&P rating agency to place the United Kingdom government’s AAA rating on negative watch should be a wake up call to the Obama administration about the dangers of fiscal profligacy. So too should the Chinese government’s repeated comments about its reluctance to keep adding to its already extraordinarily large U.S. Treasury holdings, as well as the ¾ percentage point back-up in long-dated U.S. Treasury yields over the past 2 months.” — Desmond Lachman, bogging at the AEI blog
So when DeLong, among others, says that government spending is as good as private in restoring employment, he is speaking against the whole thrust of the principle of efficient resource allocation. The essence of our recessionary problem is not the fall in aggregate demand and the lack of business confidence that accompanies it. First, it is the misallocation of resources produced by excessive risk-taking and by excessive expansion of interest-sensitive sectors. (These were generated by excessively low interest rates over the past several years.) Second, it is the uncertainty that is natural to the discovery of more appropriate combinations of resources. Third, it is the endogenous uncertainty created by the fits and starts of stimulus, bailout and unclear monetary policies.
When government adds to investment as a result of fiscal stimulus or directed monetary expansion (like buying mortgage-backed securities, student loans, etc) it does not act as a super-entrepreneur who is trying to determine the efficient and sustainable direction of resources, including the allocation of capital goods. It spends according to economically irrelevant criteria of job creation, propping up over-expanded sectors, and preventing politically painful adjustments.
Such spending is counterproductive in the medium to long term. It is also unsustainable (once the stimulus stops) since it is not consistent with the preferences of consumers-savers-investors.
These considerations tell us that government spending isn’t equally as good as private. To argue otherwise, I suggest, is a mark of basic economic error.
I recommend you read the full article, along with the comments, which include an exchange between Brad DeLong and Mario Rizzo. Full post here.