Stimulus rebates would be so much better … if they worked.

Excerpted from WSJ, “Permanent Tax Cuts Are the Best Stimulus”, Taylor, Nov. 25, 2008

* * * * *

The major part of the first stimulus package was the $115 billion, temporary rebate payment program targeted to individuals and families that phased out as incomes rose. Most of the rebate checks were mailed or directly deposited during May, June and July.

The argument in favor of these temporary rebate payments was that they would increase consumption, stimulate aggregate demand, and thereby get the economy growing again. What were the results? The chart below reveals the answer.
The upper line shows disposable personal income through September. Disposable personal income is what households have left after paying taxes and receiving transfers from the government. The big blip is due to the rebate payments in May through July.
The lower line shows personal consumption expenditures by households. Observe that consumption shows no noticeable increase at the time of the rebate. Hence, by this simple measure, the rebate did little or nothing to stimulate consumption, overall aggregate demand, or the economy.

[Commentary]

Based on the permanent-income theory of Milton Friedman, and the life-cycle theory of Franco Modigliani, temporary increases in income will not lead to significant increases in consumption. However, if increases are longer-term, as in the case of permanent tax cut, then consumption is increased, and by a significant amount.

The mantra often heard during debates about the first stimulus was that it should be temporary, targeted and timely. I recommend alternative principles: permanent, pervasive and predictable

Full article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122757149157954723.html 

* * * * *

Want more from the Homa Files?
Click link =>
  The Homa Files Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s