Keynes & Co. have lost the stimulus argument

With the nation mired in unemployment, liberal economists have been pulling the fire alarm with increasing urgency. But the fire department isn't coming

My friends Kevin O'Rourke and Barry Eichengreen in the office next door were chief among those economists warning at the start of 2009 that the shock to the world economy inflicted by the financial crisis was greater than the shock that had caused the Great Depression. They were right.

The good news is we have avoided another Great Depression. But it seems ill-advised for Barack Obama to stand up on a Friday morning in early July and say that the economy is "headed in the right direction" (even if, as he said, "we are not headed there fast enough") and to highlight "the sixth straight month of job growth in the private sector." The employment-to-population ratio has been flat since November. Over the past six months--since the downturn ended--the U.S. economy has not been recovering from its near-depression, and not been putting a greater and greater portion of its potential labor force to work. Rather, it has been bumping along the bottom. There is a big difference between the economy getting "better" and the economy "no longer getting worse rapidly."

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