Brad Delong seems to be coming to the realization that we are in a depression:
For 2 1/4 years now I have been saying that there is no chance of a repeat of the Great Depression or anything like it–that we know what to do and how to do it and will do it if things turn south.
I don’t think I can say that anymore. In my estimation the chances of another big downward shock to the U.S. economy–a shock that would carry us from the 1/3-of-a-Great-Depression we have now to 2/3 or more–are about 5%. And it now looks very much as if if such a shock hits the U.S. government will be unable to do a d—– thing about it.
We could cushion the impact of another big downward shock by a lot more deficit spending–unemployment, after all, goes down whenever anybody spends more (even though sometimes falling unemployment comes at too-high a price in rising inflation), and the government’s money is as good as anybody else’s. But the centrist Democratic legislative caucus has now dug in its heels behind the position that we cannot undertake more deficit spending right now because we have a dire structural health-care financing proble afrer 2030. The Republican legislative causes has now dug in its heels behind the position that the fact that unemployment is 10% shows not that policy earlier this year was too cautious but rather that it was ineffective. And the Obama administration has not been able or has not tried to move either of those groups out of their current entrenchments.
… unfortunately he also deems it necessary to draw precisely that conclusion which is farthest from the truth. He is yet another sad casualty of the phenomenon I expected to occur sooner or later, as I outlined in The Great Depression 2.0:
Once existing stimulus programs and credit expansion attempts subside, there won’t be much left to pick up the slack. The consumer won’t be able to go back to business as usual unless he goes through a long period of reduced consumption, deleveraging, and savings, a period during which the majority of production and spending inside the US will have to be focused on capital goods, so as to restore a balanced ratio between the production of consumer goods and the production of capital goods.
At the point when these government stimuli wind down, Keynesian clowns will be jumping out of the bushes left and right, and demand that the government take on more debt and spend more money. But at some point their mindless tirades will no longer appeal to an overtaxed and overleveraged populace. Their ivory tower nonsense will be way too far detached from simple realities.
I would submit that precisely this is the case now. Deficits are larger than ever and are likely to get higher. People are sick and tired of it.
I would like people like Krugman and Delong to answer some simple questions: How much more until you’re happy? Which sum of money borrowed from foreigners and banks, owed by taxpayers, and spent by bureaucrats on goods and services (and your salaries of course) will be our salvation? What’s the magic mark?
The truth is: there is no such number. In fact, every single dollar more is a dollar too many spent by government. There is nothing new to this development. Government spending has been on the rise for at least half a century. The direction couldn’t be more false. The path could hardly be more disastrous. The repetition of past mistakes couldn’t be more appalling. The apathy and ignorance of academia, media and politics couldn’t be more mind boggling, the gulf between illusion and reality more severe.