America’s challenge

January 22, 2010

From the great David Goldman:

When Reagan took office in 1981, the baby boomers were in their 20s and 30s, America had a 10% savings rate, the current account was in surplus, and America was the world’s largest net creditor nation. Reagan was able to cut taxes and finance an enormous budget deficit because the world’s demand for US Treasury securities was correspondingly large. In 2010, the baby boomers are in their 50s and 60s, America has saved nothing for a decade, the current account remains in severe deficit and the world is choking on the existing supply of Treasury securities. Cutting taxes to stimulate the economy is not as simple this time round.

Professor Reuven Brenner and I argued in the December 2009 issue of First Things that fundamental changes in American economic policy are required to emerge from the Great Recession. We proposed that the United States fix the dollar to the Chinese yuan and other currencies in order to re-orient trade flows to the developing world. We added, “We have been borrowing in order to consume; we need now to save in order to invest. We need to shift the tax burden, moving it away from savings and investment and toward consumption. We should replace individual and corporate income taxes with consumption-based taxes.”

2 comments

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Wow Mr P, that’s a mouthful. The suggestions you make are dramatic, from both a political and an economic perspective. And what strikes me most about your remarks is that the magnitude of our current predicament may actually require the hitherto unthinkable prescriptions you mention.

Posted by Bill, Fairfax, VA | Report as abusive

Beware of unintended consequences.

Some of the perpetrators of the Loans-to-deadbeats Ponzi scheme were just as well inteded as you two gentlemen are.

Changes this massive are extremely dangerous. Always. Maybe the impact would be super-duper. But who really knows?

Better for the government just to get the hell out of the way.

Posted by proreason | Report as abusive