Jan 28, 2009
Essays

By EUGENE F. FAMA

In his NY Times blog Paul Krugman attacks my piece on the stimulus plan.

Again, here is my argument in three sentences.

1. Bailouts and stimulus plans must be financed.

2. If the financing takes the form of additional government debt, the added debt displaces other uses of the same funds.

3. Thus, stimulus plans only enhance incomes when they move resources from less productive to more productive uses.

Are any of these statements incorrect?

In his attack on me Krugman implicitly assumes that sentence 3 above is true; that is, the stimulus plan will on balance move resources from less productive to more productive uses. This is indeed the focus of the issue. But the answer with respect to an $825 billion stimulus plan (whose details will be subject to lots of political pressures) is more than a little debatable.

Here are two interesting links on the stimulus that come to conclusions similar to mine.

From Robert Barro, "Government Spending Is No Free Lunch."

From John Cochrane, "Fiscal Stimulus, Fiscal Inflation, or Fiscal Fallacies?"

 
ABOUT FAMA AND FRENCH
Eugene F. Fama
The Robert R. McCormick Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Kenneth R. French
The Roth Family Distinguished Professor of Finance at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College
This information is distributed for educational purposes and should not be considered investment advice or an offer of any security for sale. This article contains the opinions of the author but not necessarily Dimensional Fund Advisors and does not represent a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Dimensional Fund Advisors is an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed. Past performance is not indicative of future results and no representation is made that the stated results will be replicated.

Eugene Fama and Ken French are members of the Board of Directors for and provide consulting services to Dimensional Fund Advisors LP.