Top Economic Dog, Romer and her Economic Views

Christina Romer was appointed to be the head of Obama’s team of economic advisors. She is a proclaimed Keynesian while most of her work has undermined the Keynesian theories. David Henderson from the Hoover Institute via asks “Will the real Christina Romer please stand up?” and rightfully so. I will attempt to summarize what Henderson had to say.

Keynesian believed that in order to keep full unemployment during times of downturn the government had to increase spending or cut taxes. This would cause the government to run a budget deficit. What to do after that was unclear. This is what she found when she did the research on tax cuts:

“In their article, they find that “tax increases are highly contractionary” and that tax cuts are highly expansionary. Otherwise-careful economists Greg Mankiw of Harvard and Lawrence Lindsey of the American Enterprise Institute have run with this result, as they should, but in doing so they have seriously misstated their findings.

Therefore, it’s worth looking at what the Romers did and didn’t find. Their bottom line is that “exogenous” tax cuts–that is, tax cuts not intended to offset the business cycle–have a large positive effect on gross domestic product. Specifically, a tax cut of 1% of GDP will raise GDP by about 3%.”

This may be good news for the Republicans out there, but this was with times of recessions removed. Tax cuts, like spending increases, do not work in recessions. Part of this has to do with the fact that fiscal legislation takes way to long to have any effect. Part of this has to do with the slowness of the legislature. Gerald Ford himself tried tax rebates as a boost:

“…although the 1975 tax rebate was passed within three months of being proposed, they note that it was not proposed until 14 months into the 1973-75 recession. They could have noted that the recession ended in March 1975, the same month the rebate was proposed and three months before it was passed.”

So it is very possible that we could be passing these stimulus bills too late. In fact, we could be just creating more debt while having no real effect. Now, of course, the Obama administration when the economy does come back will take credit for the recovery. With that there will be a rebirth of the welfare state as the savior of the economy, since the New Deal. Textbooks across the land will praise Obama as a savior.

The rest of Henderson’s great article is here.


Published in: on February 26, 2009 at 1:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Obama’s Economic Team: Really Romer?

Today Obama announced his economic team. What I cannot figure out is why he picked Christina Romer to be his head economist. She seems pretty good but she believes that high taxes hurt growth. I don’t remember that being apart of President-Elect Obama’s platform. Politico has it here:

“President-elect Obama plans to name Christina Romer, an expert on tax cuts and recessions who is an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, to chair his Council of Economic Advisers, aides said.

This should come in handy: Romer was once the co-author of a paper called, “What Ends Recessions?”
The three-person council, appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, is a part of the White House apparatus designed to give the president policy advice and objective economic analysis.

At the same time that Obama is calling for higher income taxes on people making $250,000 or more, the Romers have found that tax increases are generally bad for economic growth and that they primarily discourage investment — the supply-side argument that conservatives use to justify tax cuts for the rich. On the other hand, the Romers have shredded the conservative premise that tax cuts eventually force spending reductions (‘starving the beast’). Instead, they concluded that tax reductions lead only to one thing — offsetting tax increases to recover lost revenue.”

Go figure. If there is one thing I can say for sure, is that no one knows who the real Barack Obama is.

The rest is here.


Published in: on November 24, 2008 at 11:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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