It seems a long time ago that Will Straw, the former Treasury spin doctor under Gordon Brown now turned blogger and think-tanker, was arguing about the need for the Balls/Brown tax, borrow and spend stimulus plan. The voters and the 2010 general election put paid to that and George Osborne has resisted the calls of Balls (and Will) for more government borrowing to spend on boosting short-term growth. Will Straw argued, citing research by a “progressive” American economist, that spending increases were the most efficient form of deficit spending. The theory can now be tested against the outcome.
Obama did implement a massive $787 billion stimulus programme financed by more borrowing of the kind that Will Straw and Ed Balls still advocate. The chart above shows the results versus the predictions. Unemployment is far higher than the supporters of the “porkulus” projected, higher even than they projected it would be without wasting three-quarters of a trillion dollars. Not since the 1930s has US unemployment been so high for so long. Told you so.