Obama and Friedman

I think Obama is dumb, an emptyhead who knows nothing. And I think he sometimes half-realizes that himself. Because of his profound ignorance, it seems that Obama has heeded his advisers on what to do about the economic crisis, and, whatever one thinks of them, they are NOT dumb. And what they are doing through Obama is not as silly as most conservative commentators make out. Conservative commentators routinely brand the Obama policies as "Keynesian", which they undoubtedly are. But they fail to look at the alternative. And Milton Friedman's analysis is of course the alternative.

Keynes correctly identified the major problem of the Great Depression as being a demand deficit. He thought that deficit could be made up by a large program of government spending on public works. Friedman, however, looked deeper and asked WHY there was a demand deficit. And the answer to that was almost childishly simple -- far too simple for intellectuals. Friedman pointed out that the rash of bank failures created by the incompetent Federal Reserve system of the day after the 1929 crash was the culprit. As banks failed, the savings invested in them vanished. People lost their money and they could not spend money they did not have. THAT was the reason for the demand deficit.

So both Keynes and Friedman agree that spending power has to be restored. Friedman was certainly very emphatic about the importance of a stable money suppy. From Friedman's analysis, the obvious priority is to protect people's savings -- and the FDIC was set up to do just that. And the FDIC has indeed had some role recently. But, however we do it, in the end we have this time not made the mistake of the Great Depression. Spending power is being restored even if it is being done in a very slow and sub-optimal way. So I expect that there will be substantial recovery by the 2010 mid-terms -- which is a very mixed blessing from my point of view.

How about that! I am venturing a prophecy. Since 99% of all prophecies are wrong, I am offering a stringent test of my understanding indeed.

The very best way of restoring liquidity to the economy would probably have been to cancel all company tax for one year. That would certainly have done more to preserve and create jobs than handing out trillions to the prestidigitators of Wall St.

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

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