Why the word “stimulus” should never be uttered again (and why Keynesians are clueless)

Posted: July 29, 2012 in My Economics Quest
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I love John Mauldin. He is probably one of the smartest economic minds alive today. If you like economics I suggest you subscribe to his newsletter at http://www.mauldineconomics.com/. Mauldin is brilliant because he is capable of synthesizing a large amount of theory, statistics, and research into a cohesive whole. He was one of two economists to call the collapse of 2008 months before anyone else (while all the “experts” were convinced there was no top to the market.)

In his newsletter from July 23, 2012 Mauldin shared the Hoisington Quarterly Review. Two paragraphs that you must read if you don’t have the time to check out the whole thing:

“Three recent academic studies, though they differ in purpose and scope, all reach the conclusion that EXTREMELY HIGH LEVELS OF GOVERNMENTAL INDEBTEDNESS DIMINISH ECONOMIC GROWTH. In other words, DEFICIT SPENDING SHOULD NOT BE CALLED “STIMULUS” as is the overwhelming tendency by the media and many economic writers. While government spending may have been linked to the concept of economic stimulus in distant periods, such an assertion is unwarranted, and blatantly wrong in present circumstances. While officials argue that governmental action is required for political reasons and public anxiety, governments would be better off to admit that traditional tools only serve to compound existing problems.” 

“Reinhart, Reinhart and Rogoff dealt with the idiosyncrasies of countries of different sizes and their abilities to engage in different policy actions (such as devaluations and subsequent inflation) by limiting their samples to advanced countries. In the second study “Government Size and Growth”, Bergh and Henrekson found that to the extent there are contradictory findings of the relationship between the size of government and economic growth they are explained by variations in definitions and the countries studied. The Swedish economists focused their study on the relationship in rich countries by measuring government size as either total taxes or total expenditures relative to GDP. Using a very sophisticated econometric approach under this criterion, they revealed a consistent pattern showing government size has a significant negative correlation with economic growth. Their results indicate “an increase in government size by ten percentage points is associated with a 0.5% to 1% lower annual growth rate.”

Dear politicians and Obama supporters, read the above two paragraphs until you actually understand them.

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