En motsträvig regering

Anders BorgJag är imponerad av att regeringen håller sig lugn. Inte därför att det är fel att stimulera ekonomin. Inte därför att det är fel att försöka skapa nya jobb. Utan därför att vi inte vet om det går att göra det med stora stimulanspaket. Den politiska logiken dikterar att politiker ska visa handlingskraft. Satsa mer. Miljarder hit, miljarder dit. Det kan låta bra, men om vi inte vet om pengarna gör nytta, och om vi återigen riskerar att skaffa oss en enorm statsskuld som ska betalas tillbaka framöver, är det påkallat med lugn och noggrann analys. Thomas Östros anklagar regeringen för passivitet — som om detta vore något negativt.

Über-keynesianen Brad DeLong citerar tunga ekonomer som delar regeringens skepsis (DeLong gör det förstås inte själv). Thomas Östros, här har du expertis:

William Poole, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, believes that: ”Government spending can’t lead the way to sustained recovery, because its stimulating effect will be offset by anticipated higher taxes and the need to finance the deficit.” …

Robert Barro, Harvard University, said of the Obama fiscal stimulus proposal: ”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 … I don’t think it will expand the economy … It’s more along the lines of throwing money at people … I think it’s garbage.” …

John Cochrane, University of Chicago, said: ”It’s not part of what anybody has taught graduate students since the 1960s … They are fairy tales that have been proved false. It is very comforting in times of stress to go back to the fairy tales we heard as children but it doesn’t make them less false.”

Edward Prescott, Arizona State University, who won a Nobel prize for economics in 2004 for his study on business cycles, made this contribution: ”Massive government spending likely lengthened the economic struggles each time. Economists in the field are deeply divided on the issue of federal stimulus … I don’t know why Obama said all economists agree on this. They don’t. If you go down to the third-tier schools, yes, but they’re not the people advancing the science.”

Eugene Fama, University of Chicago, stated: ”Bail-outs and stimulus plans are funded by issuing more government debt. (The money must come from somewhere!) The added debt absorbs savings that would otherwise go to private investment. In the end, despite the existence of idle resources, bail-outs and stimulus plans do not add to current resources in use. They just move resources from one use to another.”

Keiichiro Kobayashi varnar, mot bakgrund av de japanska erfarenheterna, för att tro att krisen löses med stimulansåtgärder:

Bad debt is the root of the crisis. Fiscal stimulus may help economies for a couple of years but once the “painkilling” effect wears off, US and European economies will plunge back into crisis. The crisis won’t be over until the nonperforming assets are off the balance sheets of US and European banks.

Professor Luigi Zingales identifierar, efter att ha påpekat att krisen inte beror på underkonsumtion utan på brist på tillit och att den därför inte heller löses med massiva, ofinansierade utgiftsökningar, den politiska attraktionen i förslag om stora utgiftsökningar:

Keynesianism has conquered the hearts and minds of politicians and ordinary people alike because it provides a theoretical justification for irresponsible behaviour. Medical science has established that one or two glasses of wine per day are good for your long-term health, but no doctor would recommend a recovering alcoholic to follow this prescription. Unfortunately, Keynesian economists do exactly this. They tell politicians, who are addicted to spending our money, that government expenditures are good. 

Motsträvighet kan vara bra. Frågan är om väljarna fortsätter att inse det.

Se tidigare inlägg om krisen här (bläddra ner).
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