Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why some expect a slow recovery

I do not normally link to op-eds by politicians, but last week's WSJ piece by GOP Reps. Hensarling and Ryan is noteworthy for some of the points that they make about government policies and incentives. Hensarling and Ryan are pessimistic about the recovery because (1) the Obama stimulus package did not create any new incentives to work or invest (of course neither did the Bush stimulus a year earlier), (2) the Bush tax cuts expire in 2011, (3) in the takeover of GM and Chrysler the government stiffed secured creditors (e.g., bondholders), and (4) expected future taxes associated with health care and climate change legislation. The combination of higher taxes, uncertainty about regulatory outcomes and massive deficits imposes a huge drag on the recovery. On top of that I would add these considerations: small and medium sized businesses with solid financials still cannot get access to credit and households are reluctant to take on more debt. What Hensarling and Ryan do not mention is that most of the federal stimulus has yet to arrive and the Fed is keeping short term interest rates quite low.

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