Saturday, February 07, 2009

Another country heard from

At the Atlantic, Conor Clarke had a question and answer with Harvard economist Robert Barro on the "stimulus" bill.
The last thing is just about the stimulus bills as it stands. Two things here. One thing is what do you think about the ratio of spending to tax relief in the bill. And the second is, if you judge it by Larry Summers standard -- that stimulus be temporary, timely and targeted -- does it clear the bar?

This is probably the worst bill that has been put forward since the 1930s. I don't know what to say. I mean it's wasting a tremendous amount of money. It has some simplistic theory that I don't think will work, so I don't think the expenditure stuff is going to have the intended effect. I don't think it will expand the economy. And the tax cutting isn't really geared toward incentives. It's not really geared to lowering tax rates; it's more along the lines of throwing money at people. On both sides I think it's garbage. So in terms of balance between the two it doesn't really matter that much.

Harvard economists have, of course, been wrong before. And will be again. But it doesn't seem likely that he's wrong this time...

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