The wisdom of Scott Sumner

Meanwhile, young tweeters seem to forget the Great Inflation happened, or perhaps that it was caused by some sort of oil shock. How oil shocks cause double digit NGDP growth has never been explained. Everything we learned about unreliable Phillips Curves and shifting inflation expectations seems to have been forgotten. You simply can’t have too much stimulus.

I suppose their ignorance is understandable. If parents expertly adjust the thermostat to keep the house temperature at 71 to 73 degrees for 20 years, with a 72 degree target, can you blame the kids who grew up in that house for thinking that thermostats don’t have much impact on temps? (Let’s hope Powell knows!)

My views are orthogonal to this intra-Keynesian debate. I don’t think the fiscal stimulus is a good idea, but not because I expect much inflation. The inflation rate will be determined by the Fed. Rather it’s a reckless policy because it will lead to higher tax rates in the future and won’t do much to generate growth beyond Q3. (Deficits do cause higher interest rates, but only slightly higher in a country like the US.)

For 250 years of American history, politicians have held the peacetime budget deficit in check because of fears of either inflation or higher interest rates (or perhaps a loss of confidence in the gold standard.) What would happen if they begin to sniff out that the actual risk is not inflation or much higher interest rates next year, rather the risk is higher taxes in 20 years, after they’ve safely retired? How would they respond to this information?

I fear that we are about to find out.

There is more at the link.  As an aside, I am amazed how much “but the job market recovered so slowly last time” is considered a relevant argument here.



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