Thursday, September 8, 2011

My part

This got buried at the end of a long excerpt, so I am repeating it now.

The Federal debt. Somebody started saying the economy went bad because of the Federal debt. And people got into the spirit of the thing and started running with it. Since, what, Reagan? Since 1980. Now 10, 20, 30, 31 years, and people have just been running a little faster, pushing a little harder, pushing to cut Federal spending, to cut Federal spending and balance the budget. With no success.

But not entirely no success. We did cut Federal spending as a share of GDP:

Graph #1: Federal Spending as a share of GDP, 1982-2001

And we did balance the budget:

Graph #2: Federal Surplus or Deficit, 1982-2001

We did cut spending and balance the budget. But economic performance, measured by capacity utilization, dropped off as the budget came into balance in 1998:

And in the decade after 2001, economic performance was worse than in the two decades before:

Excessive private-sector debt inhibits growth in the private sector. Don't worry about government debt. It is private-sector debt we must reduce.

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