The Bottom Falls Out

Ezra Klein conjured up a fanciful reason why the stimulus spending hasn’t stimulated… anything. Matt and Eileen broke it down pretty thoroughly. Today, Mercatus Senior Research Fellow Veronique de Rugy has some visual evidence to rebut Ezra’s Keynsian dreams.

Klein is exactly wrong when he writes:

Uncertain about the future, [consumers] spend less now. The role of the government is to step up and keep the economy moving until consumer confidence returns.

Uncertainty isn’t a side-effect of a downturn, it’s a primary cause. In the recent bust, asset values were drastically skewed. If the government “keep[s] the economy moving,” confidence can’t ever return; everyone knows the old status quo was horribly flawed. Ezra, like Krugman, believes that government spending can drive an economy. Veronique’s chart neatly dispels the illusion that public spending can effectively supplement (or supplant) the private sector.