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August 25, 2012

China Perfects Keynesian Stimulus

One of the big knocks on the idea of Keynesian pump priming through government-funded construction jobs is, as President Boy Genius found out, that there's really no such thing as a "shovel-ready" project.

Another criticism is that construction jobs are, by definition, temporary.

Well, the Chinese have solved both these problems in spectacular fashion:

One of the longest bridges in northern China collapsed on Friday, just nine months after it opened, setting off a storm of criticism from Chinese Internet users and underscoring questions about the quality of construction in the country’s rapid expansion of its infrastructure.

A nearly 330-foot-long section of a ramp of the eight-lane Yangmingtan Bridge in the city of Harbin dropped 100 feet to the ground. Four trucks plummeted with it, resulting in three deaths and five injuries.

The 9.6-mile bridge is one of three built over the Songhua River in that area in the past four years. China’s economic stimulus program in 2009 and 2010 helped the country avoid most of the effects of the global economic downturn, but involved incurring heavy debt to pay for the rapid construction of new bridges, highways and high-speed rail lines all over the country.

Brilliant! If you build "infrastructure" that has to be constantly rebuilt, those construction jobs become permanent.

And shovel-ready? Well hells yeah. There's 330 feet of bridge rubble to move right now. Not to mention the 3 shovel-ready dead bodies.

Construction can begin immediately because all the permitting and everything was already done once. Just change the dates on the forms, and you're off and running.

The auto industry even gets a little boost out of it but the results for healthcare are more mixed. On the one hand, there were injuries that required treatment but on the other hand, those dead folks' costs went to zero.

You know who loves this idea?


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posted by Andy at 09:20 AM

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