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June 6, 2010

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Posted: 05 Jun 2010 11:05 PM PDT

"Stimulus? What stimulus?"

Posted: 05 Jun 2010 11:52 AM PDT

This is an update to the post below this one on falling state and local government employment due to budget problems brought about by the recession:

Stimulus? What stimulus?, by Stephen Gordon: ... There has been much talk of the size of the US federal stimulus, and much debate about whether or not it has been an effective counter-cyclical policy instrument.
But it's important to remember that the proper measure for fiscal stimulus is not spending by the federal government; it is spending by all levels of government. And when you look at the contributions to US GDP growth (Table 1.1.2 at the BEA site), total government spending has been a drag on growth over the past two quarters. The increases at the federal level have not been enough to compensate for the spending cuts at the local and state levels.
I suppose that this could be interpreted as good news: despite a contractionary fiscal stance, the US economy is in recovery. But it raises the question of how much better it could be doing if it had an expansionary fiscal policy.

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