Monday, October 05, 2009

The source of Obama's stimulus push seem to come from Christina Romer who thought that FDR did not spend enough during the Great Depression. From the New Yorker:

One of her key papers as an economist at the University of California at Berkeley, where she had spent the previous twenty years, showed that, contrary to popular belief, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s spending programs hadn’t pulled America out of the Depression. (She found that monetary policy was the key factor.) Conservatives had seized on the paper to disprove the efficacy of fiscal stimulus, but Romer’s point wasn’t that Roosevelt had spent too much to no purpose; it was that he hadn’t spent enough. When faced with a severe recession, she believed in overwhelming force.

It seem intuitive to state that the 1940s and 1950s was an unusual time in world economic history because the US was the only viable and growing economy; producing everything the world wanted and employing Americans. FDRs huge budget out lays were recouped from taxes paid by various participants in this growing economy.

But today it seems like there is a lot of competition from other economies and the US would not be able to recoup the large federal deficits through growth. History never repeats but it does rhymes. In this case it seems that the ideologues have latched on to academic research that may not be relevant. Let's see what happens.

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