Friday, July 31, 2009

Aggregate Demand and Government Purchases

In certain GOP circles, the conclusion had already been drawn that the recent fiscal stimulus had failed to cure the patient even before the patient really swallowed the medicine. A few interesting tidbits from the BEA’s latest include the somewhat good news that real GDP fell by only 1 percent (all figures on an annualized basis) during the second quarter of 2009 as opposed to about 6 percent over the previous 6 months. Also notice that government purchased fell by 2.6 percent during the first quarter of 2009 with declines not only in state and local purchases but also Federal purchases. But during the most recent quarter, government purchases rose by 5.6 percent mainly because of a pop from Federal purchases. Simply put – the patient is still sick but the fiscal medicine has started to kick in.

Update: When Josh Bivens speaks, you listen:

The marked improvement in this quarter relative to last is largely due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Despite the needed boost from the ARRA (up to 3 full percentage points of annualized growth in the quarter), the U.S. economy has still contracted over the past year by 3.9%, the largest annual contraction since 1947 ... Despite the overall contraction, the fingerprints of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act could be seen in some aspect of today’s report. Federal government spending grew at an 11% rate in the quarter, adding roughly 0.8% to overall GDP. State and local government spending grew at a 2.4% annual rate, the fastest growth since the middle of 2007. It is clear that the large amount of state aid contained in the ARRA made this growth possible. Furthermore, real (inflation-adjusted) disposable personal income rose by 3.2% in the quarter, after rising by only 1% in the previous quarter. A large contribution to this increase was made by the Making Work Pay tax credit passed in conjunction with the ARRA, as this was the first full quarter that the credit was in effect. Inflation-adjusted transfer payments (including a one-time payment to Social Security recipients) rose at an annual rate of over 6% in the quarter as well. This increase in disposable personal incomes did not translate into a sharp boost in consumption spending because the personal savings rate jumped again — rising to 5.2% in the second quarter, up from 4% in the previous quarter. This slippage between personal incomes and consumption spending caused by a rising savings rate makes plain that, instead of focusing on even more tax cuts, it was wise to make sure that much of the ARRA was devoted to direct public investment spending. The public investment spending in the ARRA, while not having a significant impact in the second quarter, will provide an even stronger boost to the economy in quarters to come. The consensus of macroeconomic forecasters is that ARRA contributed roughly 3% to annualized growth rates in the second quarter. This means that absent its effects, economic performance would have resembled that of the previous three quarters, when the economy contracted at an average annual rate of 4.9%. In short, the recovery act turned this quarter’s economic performance from disastrous to merely bad. This is no small achievement, but with even more public relief and investments, the U.S. economy could do much better.

1 comment:

Barkley Rosser said...

Yes, not only has the fiscal stimulus failed to stimulate the economy, but it is going to bring us hyperinflation!!!!!!