Tag Archives: recession

Give them money and they will spend

It would cost $600 billion to simply give $2,000 to each of 300,000,000 Americans. If we confined it to just those who make under half a mil, say, we’d each get a bunch more. Now that would be a stimulus by golly. Narrow it further so that all the six billion ends up in the hands of adults and we’d be beating down the barn doors in a heartbeat. Instant demand! More jobs to meet the demand! GDP up! More revenue flowing into state and federal coffers!

Spend! Work! Grow! That would work, and we’re printing money anyway . . .

Note: Dr. Black (a real economist!) at Eschaton has been advocating this novel solution for a few years now. Perhaps they should have listened to him.

Ezra and Ron: not a Love Story

Puts me in mind of these fellows

In The New York Review of Books, Ezra Klein finds little to love about Ron Suskind’s new book, The Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President. Perhaps because Suskind found little to love about the economic advisors Obama surrounded himself with and the resulting policies, which, Suskind says, led to the decline in Obama’s poll numbers.

In criticizing this conclusion (and some others) as unproven, Klein makes an important point – one too often ignored in the current conversation – a point which may end up being just an historical footnote, if Obama is not re-elected (I’m confident he will be). But it’s a reminder of how much time we waste puzzling over what history tells us is quite predictable.

The President’s poll numbers aren’t the mystery Suskind presents them as. If you want to know what killed Obamaism, the answer is the stagnant economy. No president, no matter how politically graceful or personally confident, looks good in the midst of an economic crisis. When unemployment rose during the 1980–1981 recession, President Ronald Reagan’s approval ratings fell below 40 percent and his party lost twenty-six House seats in the midterm election. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Federal Reserve twisted toward austerity too early and sparked the 1937 recession, Democrats lost more than seventy seats the following year. No one would accuse either president of insufficient charisma or weak leadership. Americans don’t want leaders so much as they want jobs. And that’s Obama’s problem now, too.

I’ve read two of Suskind’s earlier books and found both to be  well sourced and so well written as to reach that novelistic heaven of “couldn’t put it down”. But I haven’t yet read this one, so can’t comment, except to say I usually find Klein to be a fine reporter and writer as well.