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July 06, 2011

A Consensus of Experts: The "Stimulus" Failed, Was Non-Stimulative, Probably Had Greater Adverse Effects Due to Increasing Debt

Very good post by Ed Morrissey collecting up the Consensus of Experts, which must always be right, I'm told in another context.

In defending Romney against the completely made-up media fabrication that he'd "flip-flopped" on whether the economy was worse now than in January 2009, I expressed my opinion you could make that case, but it requires a bit of an argument.

The argument you'd made to demonstrate this goes something like this: While there has been some weak positive growth in GDP, we secured that by spending 2012-2015's revenues now. So yes, we got a meager (very meager) boost from spending tomorrow's revenues today.

But this has had the effect of depleting any further wiggle room we had regarding spending future receipts, and has left us with such an enormous overhang of debt that the fact of this debt outweighs any positive effect of spending future revenues today. This is why people aren't spending, aren't hiring, and aren't investing -- they know the actual economy is worse than the superficial glance at GDP growth rates would show.

They know that the minor goose of the GDP numbers will be erased by the steep drop in GDP to come -- and that it must come, as borrowing forever doesn't work, and if a government won't correct its unbalanced books, reality will balance those books one way or another for them.

The first expert quoted by Morrissey makes this case, more or less. Or at least I can see the outlines of it in what he's saying.

James Pethokoukis digests another report on the "stimulus'" non-stimulativeness:

Indeed, the results are horrifying. The two-year-old recovery’s terrible tale of the tape: A 9.1 percent unemployment rate that’s probably closer to 16 percent counting the discouraged and underemployed, the worst income growth and weakest GDP growth of any upturn since World War II, a still-weakening housing market. Oh, and a trillion bucks down the tube. Oh, and two-and-a-half years … and counting … wasted during which time the skills of unemployed workers continue to erode and the careers of younger Americans suffer long-term income damage. Losing the future.

Tom Blumer: Damnit, The Economy Is Worse Now: He disagrees with me.

Actually, he doesn't disagree with me because I don't really subscribe to the position he thinks I do. My position is more nuanced. I think you can make the case the economy is worse now than the day Obama took office, but it is tendentious argument that will get you ankle-bit to death by reporters determined to catch you in some gotcha about, say, the exact GDP growth in one quarter.

My take is more that it is far easier to make the case that Obama made the recession worse -- the difficulty here is all on the other side of it, on those attempting to claim the contrary -- and so, as a Choice of Messaging thing, I'd stick to that, and, pretty much as Romney did, demur on the other point but note (as he did) that anyone who wishes to argue that an economy with 16% real unemployment is a good economy, well, God Speed To You.

I don't mind at all if someone chooses to make the other case. But be aware, you are going to get ankle-bit to death on that, you are going to have reporters do nothing but quiz you on every single economic indicator in every quarter in the past two years searching for a gotcha, so you'd better do some serious flashcard memorization and conduct a lot of simulated hostile interviews.

And, even if you do do that, they're still going to call you a liar and ignore what you say.

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posted by Ace at 10:58 AM

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