Since its cyclical zenith in December 2007, U.S. economic production has been on its worst trajectory since the Great Depression. Massive stimulus spending and unprecedented monetary easing haven't helped, and yet the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve still cling to the book of Keynes. It's an approach ill-suited to solving the growth problem that the United States has today.
We are in the midst of the Great Recession and Mr. Laffer thinks we have too much fiscal and monetary stimulus? I guess we are witnessing hyperinflation and high interest rates in his little Alice-in-Wonderland Economy (I had to give a hat tip to Jay Bookman somewhere). And there is:
The solution can be found in the price theory section of any economics textbook. It's basic supply and demand. Employment is low because the incentives for workers to work are too small, and the incentives not to work too high. Workers' net wages are down, so the supply of labor is limited. Meanwhile, demand for labor is also down since employers consider the costs of employing new workers—wages, health care and more—to be greater today than the benefits.
The reduction in employment is because folks are voluntarily leaving their jobs? There isn’t much of an unemployment problem? If Laffer really believes this – he might write that there was a movement along the supply curve rather than say “the supply is limited”. After all, the distinction between movement along a curve versus shift of a curve is found in almost every beginning textbook given to college freshman. Or was this a shift of the demand for labor schedule? Laffer’s writing is incredibly confused.
Actually what Mr. Laffer is suggesting is that there has been an increase in the wedge often modeled as the tax rate on employment:
Firms choose whether to hire based on the total cost of employing workers, including all federal, state and local income taxes; all payroll, sales and property taxes; regulatory costs; record-keeping costs; the costs of maintaining health and safety standards; and the costs of insurance for health care, class action lawsuits, and workers compensation … The problem is that the government has driven a massive wedge between the wages paid by firms and the wages received by workers.
Fine but this wedge has not been increased dramatically. Laffer does not even try to suggest that it has increased. All he is claiming is that a wedge exists. But it existed back in 2006 when the labor market was healthy. I guess his Stanford professors did not require this student to understand the concept of comparative statics!
If Laffer’s wedge model were the driving force behind firms reducing employment, one might seen this in terms of a dramatic increase in the Employment Cost Index but it seems the goods folks over at the Bureau of Labor Statistics provide little evidence to buttress Mr. Laffer’s absurd rant.