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# Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy on the Stimulus

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Joined: 22 Oct 2006
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Schools: Chicago Booth '11
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Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy on the Stimulus [#permalink]  20 Feb 2009, 08:11

How much will the stimulus package moving in Congress really stimulate the economy?

The evaluations to date have been incomplete, so we looked at the likely stimulative effect from the spending parts of the House and Senate bills -- over $500 billion -- and assessed the quantitative effects of four basic factors. 1) How much increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) can be expected from the stimulus package? In a full-employment situation, increased government spending would largely replace private spending, so the net stimulus to GDP would likely be quite small. In the present environment, however, with growing unemployment of both labor and capital, the net stimulus would be larger since the additional government spending would put some unemployed resources to work. For example, if the government spent money to build new homes with unemployed labor, the stimulus to GDP might be close to, even larger than, the amount spent. However, given the present housing glut, that hardly seems to be a wise policy, although it is a small part of both the House and Senate stimulus packages. In fact, much of the proposed spending would be in sectors and on programs where the government would mainly have to draw resources away from other uses. This type of spending includes adding broadband to rural areas, spending more on health coverage, encouraging scientific innovations, developing renewable energy, as well as many other things. The Opinion Journal Widget Download Opinion Journal's widget and link to the most important editorials and op-eds of the day from your blog or Web page. As President Barack Obama recently said, "This plan is more than a prescription for short-term spending -- it's a strategy for America's long-term growth and opportunity in areas such as renewable energy, health care and education." Such spending may encourage long-term growth, but it will have little short-term effect on GDP. So our conclusion is that the net stimulus to short-term GDP will not be zero, and will be positive, but the stimulus is likely to be modest in magnitude. Some economists have assumed that every$1 billion spent by the government through the stimulus package would raise short-term GDP by \$1.5 billion. Or, in economics jargon, that the multiplier is 1.5.

That seems too optimistic given the nature of the spending programs being proposed. We believe a multiplier well below one seems much more likely.

2) The increased government spending in the stimulus package is supposed to be only temporary, until the economy returns to a full employment level, but probably won't be.

The evidence of past expansions of government programs is just the opposite. Once created .................................

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123423402552366409.html
Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy on the Stimulus   [#permalink] 20 Feb 2009, 08:11
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