...More money for extended unemployment benefits; more aid to the states so that they can maintain the most vital public services; and more money to expand mass transit, state college and university systems, efficient energy production and basic scientific research. The economist Paul Krugman estimates that for every dollar in extra debt that will be required to finance this fiscal stimulus, about 40 cents will be repaid almost immediately in the form of tax revenues from higher short-term economic growth. And if the money is invested wisely in quality projects with high returns, the other 60 cents could wind up being a boon to future generations, rather than a burden.As I said yesterday, Congress seems intent on reinflating the housing bubble.
What would surely not be good policy, by the way, is to extend and expand the current tax break for first-time home buyers that is set to expire at the end of the year, as many in Congress are now advocating. Home buyers are already getting a huge benefit from the dramatic drop in house prices, along with the lowest mortgage rates in a generation, thanks to massive government infusions into Fannie and Freddie. For the government to go beyond those efforts and try to induce home sales that otherwise wouldn't have happened — at an estimated $75,000 a pop — would surely be cheered by home builders, real estate agents and the analysts at Goldman Sachs. But in truth it would be nothing more than a misguided attempt to reinflate another bubble.
Friday, October 16, 2009
More stimulus, but no more bubbles
Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein gives his recommendations for strengthening the economy: