Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Feldstein on fiscal policy

Even Martin Feldstein says Keynesian economics work when the credit market is distressed badly:

In a paper, Mr. Feldstein noted that the usual method of reviving the economy — lower interest rates — was failing to work because of “a dysfunctional credit market.”

That left fiscal stimulus to offset what he described as a decline of $400 billion a year in consumer spending. “While good tax policy can contribute to ending the recession, the heavy lifting will have to be done by increased government spending,” Mr. Feldstein said.

He pushed for big spending, carried out quickly. Among his proposals: replace depleted military supplies and equipment and step up financing for “useful research.” He also said that the shortage of “shovel ready” projects should not be a deterrent in a recession that is likely to last long enough to plan and execute new projects.

“It is of course possible that the planned surge in government spending will fail,” Mr. Feldstein said. But he expressed the “hope that the new program of fiscal spending in combination with mortgage market reforms will be sufficient to return the economy to full employment.”