Robert Barro and His Black Box

by Mario Rizzo

I am both intrigued and annoyed by Robert Barro’s recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal. He adduces empirical (econometric) evidence to support the view that the fiscal stimulus package has done very little good in the short run and will do harm in the long run. I do not want here to discuss technical data or identification problems. Instead, I want to discuss something both more elementary and more profound.

The world of econometric estimation is a world shrouded in mystery, even for some econometricians like Edward Leamer of UCLA, for example. Continue reading

Crowding Out DeLong: A Clarification

by Mario Rizzo  

“What it [the total of stimulus-created or saved jobs — MR] doesn’t consider are the jobs lost due to the very policies that are “saving” jobs. Government can only spend what it takes from the private sector one way or another, either through taxation, borrowing, or the redistribution effects of inflation. For every dollar that government spends, there is one less dollar being spent somewhere else in the economy. The jobs that weren’t created because the private sector lacked access to capital due to increases in government borrowing should be offset against whatever jobs the stimulus supposedly is creating.”  Steve Horwitz.   

Brad DeLong says (in the comments below my previous post) that I got Steve Horwitz’s point about crowding out wrong and therefore my defense of Horwitz is inappropriate. Furthermore, then, I miss the importance of DeLong’s evaluation that Horwitz is incompetent.  

First, and most important, I did not intend my post to be primarily a defense of Horwitz and therefore an implicit criticism of DeLong in his criticism of Horwitz. (Got that, readers?)

I intended to say simply that (1) DeLong is wrong for not worrying about crowding out in its various dimensions; and (2) that someone who worries about crowding out, like Steve Horwitz, is therefore not clueless or worse. Continue reading

Crowding Out Brad DeLong

by Mario Rizzo  

Brad DeLong thinks that, under present circumstances, the crowding out of private expenditure by fiscal stimulus is not a live issue. The basic argument is that since neither average wages nor interest rates have risen in response to stimulus, no resources are being diverted from private to public uses. 

I am unsure what the standards of good analysis are among Keynesian macroeconomists, so I proceed with some trepidation. However, as readers of this blog will know, I am unhappy with the level of macro-aggregation usually practiced by both Keynesian and new-classical macroeconomists. So I want to disaggregate the analysis a bit.   Continue reading