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Best Business Commentary
January 25, 2008
Stimulate your savings account
When you get your “stimulus” check, says Brett Arends in The Wall Street Journal, “don’t bother trying to stimulate the economy with it.” The much smarter thing to do is save the money, “if you can afford to.” Why? “Compounding.” Every dollar you save will be worth “nearly $5” in 30 years. That means taxpayers in their 30s should end up with $3,000 to $6,000 if they put away their refund checks. That may not seem like much, but “Social Security is looking pretty rickety,” so “every bit counts.” And don’t feel bad about not spending your piece of the stimulus—the “real boost” will come from the provision to help lower “jumbo” mortgages.
Make the savings account a non-issue
If the point of the stimulus is to make sure people spend it, send them a coupon, says Caroline Baum in Bloomberg. With “an expiration date.” Unlike checks, these coupons would only be redeemable for “domestically produced goods and services”—“Made in China” doesn’t help us much. The expiration-tagged coupons would also let the government decide when to provide stimulus. After all, what household is going to let a valuable “freebie go to waste”? It is a foolproof plan, with only one downside: with no need to analyze whether people spent or saved, “it may lead to job losses among economists.”
of The Week magazine.