Day By Day

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Barro's Reading List

Robert Barro, Harvard economist, takes on the Obamaphile economic commentators. Some of the points he deals with are very interesting.

In the continuing debate over the efficacy of Roosevelt's New Deal he argues that it was neither good nor bad policy, but rather a mixed bag and that a more definitive answer has to wait for further research. That's the way serious history works -- it takes a long-long time to sort through the mountain of evidence on any complex phenomenon. In the case of the Great Depression we are still arguing seven decades after it ended. So much for the mythical "judgment of history".

He also argues that the "multiplier effect" of government spending is less than one -- in other words, it doesn't exist and administration claims to the contrary are sheer fantasy.

Here's the money quote on current administration policy:
I think the stimulus package was very stupid; it was awful. It’s just a tremendous waste of money and it’s going to cause some trouble in terms of a bigger public debt; it’s just wasting resources. But the more important thing is the financial system, and the housing related aspects. So on that, despite a lot of floundering around, mostly I think what they were doing is in the right direction.
Read the whole thing here.

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