Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Fallout From Going Soft

Brian Domitrovic looks at the real cause of the 2008 economic crisis and the continuing instability we've experienced afterward and concludes that it really is George W. Bush's fault (although not in the way most would imagine):

As goes alternative scenarios, it is perfectly conceivable that had Bush cut taxes the right way – at the margin, immediately, and permanently, in 2001 – the Fed would have never panicked into taking rates so basely low for so long. The good tax cut would have been sufficient to ward off a recession in the context of normal interest rates, even given 9/11. There would have been no housing and commodities bubble, because rates would never have been so close to zero as to invite these things. And the quicker boom would have made unnecessary the desperate dollar-devaluation ploy that became a Bush administration hallmark.

The primary question we must ask about the 2000s is not what caused the crisis as the decade came to a close, but why was growth so subpar the whole time? Ultimately financial crises reflect the declining potential of the real economy to deliver. The Bush presidency was perfectly set up after the 2000 election to let the real economy run, but what we got was cold feet on taxes, Hail Marys from the Fed, a bias toward spending, and lack of support for the dollar. By rights, today we should not be mired in economic malaise; rather, we should be enjoying a fourth decade of prosperity on the heels of the roaring 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.