A really good summary (HT: Joe Cordes).
1. Austerity is stupid
2. Stimulus is dangerous
3. Lying is optimal
4. Economic choices are not scalar
The first point I hope speaks for itself. The second point is obvious too. I think a fifth point ("depression is really dangerous") would better round out the choice set we're facing right now. It's a "lesser of two evils" situation. The third point is interesting but not surprising to economists. The fourth point is very important for those interested in infantilizing the debate. Cafe Hayek is one site that loves to engage in "reductio ad absurdum" arguments, and I've recently discovered Wayne Anderson's penchant for that sort of thinking too. It's a really dumb way to approach these questions, and we need to keep that in mind. Generally speaking, reductio ad absurdum is a bad strategy to use when talking about economics.
This is the essential point of the post:
"I think there are lots of things government can and should do that would be fantastic. A “jobs bill”, however, or “stimulus” in the abstract, are not among them. If we do smart things, we will do well. If we do stupid things, or if we hope for markets to figure things out while nothing much gets done, the world will unravel beneath us. We have intellectual work to do that goes beyond choosing a deficit level."
For the Weekend...
1 hour ago