Friday, October 30, 2009

Stimulus = Hair of the Dog (Peter Schiff)

That mean ol' Peter Schiff rains on mainstream economists' parade by insisting the economic downturn is FAR from over and that any "stimulus" will only worsen the situation:

The GDP numbers out yesterday, which showed economic growth at 3.5% in the third quarter, brought a deafening chorus from public and private economists who all agreed that the recession is officially over. With such a strong report, they are happy to tell us that not only has the Fat Lady finished her aria, but she has left the building and is sipping champagne in the bath. As usual, it falls on me to rain on the parade.

Even the giddiest commentators admit that the upside GDP surprise resulted almost entirely from government interventions. But, by pushing up public and private debt, expanding government, deepening trade deficits, and pushing down savings rates, these interventions have succeeded only in putting our economy back on an unsustainable path of borrowing and spending. Accordingly, they have prevented the rebalancing necessary for long-term health. Could there be a simpler illustration of trading long-term pain for short-term gain?

Rather than asking these pre-K economists to make such a three dimensional leap, it may be easier just to give them a brief history lesson.

During the decade that corresponds to the Great Depression, annual GNP expanded for six years and contracted for four. After nose-diving in the early years of the decade, GNP turned positive in 1934 and then logged three more years of solid growth (the four year average annual growth rate was 8.5%). But does anyone really believe the Great Depression ended in 1934, when the economy first stopped contracting? Unemployment reached 19% in 1938, nearly the peak of the entire Depression, almost a full decade after the stock market crashed! Why will we be so much luckier this time around?

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't one of the problems that people seem to only understand the world they live in using simple statistics? So may be there could be 30% unemployment but if people are told that gdp is increasing they will think that everything is well.

The discomforting truth might be that it does not matter how the populace is doing and what state they are in so long as the system itself is healthy.
You know there are many countries where a large percentage of the population live in shanty towns and on the margins of poverty. As far as the system is concerned these people hardly exist at all. They only matter when it is felt necessary to move them on by bulldozing there shacks.