Tradeoffs Don’t Exist

Or so say Larry Summers and Mark Thoma who argue that we can have a bailout and a stimulus package and still have tax cuts and more spending on energy, health care, education and all the other goodies that we have been promised.  Salesman Summers explains:

Just as a family that goes on a $500,000 vacation is $500,000 poorer
but a family that buys a $500,000 home is only poorer if it overpays,
the impact of the $700bn programme on the fiscal position depends on
how it is deployed and how the economy performs. The American
experience with financial support programmes is somewhat encouraging.
The Chrysler bail-out, President Bill Clinton’s emergency loans to
Mexico, and the Depression-era support programmes for housing and
financial sectors all ultimately made profits for taxpayers…

Does this sound familiar?  I can hear it now.  A vacation sir is consumption but a home, ah a home, that’s investment.  Investments pay off.  Just look at the American experience.  Rising home prices!  Never a downturn.  Isn’t that encouraging?  Hell, at prices like these you can hardly afford not to buy.  Yes sir, a home that’s a wise investment.  And that makes you sir, a wise investor.  And a wise investor, well a wise investor can certainly afford a nice vacation.    


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