Robert Shiller Joins the Build While It's Cheap Chorus

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 12:55:48 +0000

Nicely written, "Making the Most of our Financial Winter."  The novel part:

In every depression the nation has faced, there have been proposals for the government to do just this: increase spending on public improvements to create jobs for the unemployed.

An article in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, written in 1877, during the 1873-79 depression, argued that the government could create a great many infrastructure jobs. “There are many needed improvements: the construction of the Texas and Pacific Railroad, the widening of the entrances to the Mississippi, the diking of its alluvial blanks, the clearing of obstructions from the beds of the great rivers of the West, the improvement of the harbors and rivers in the East, the completion of the post offices, custom houses, seawalls, breakwaters and other useful works of a national character,” the article said.

Shiller goes on to argue for the balanced-budget aspect of infrastructure improvements in the President's American Jobs Act proposal.  I would take that, as well as add a zero to the proposals -- they are an order of magnitude too small -- and borrow to get them done while we are in our financial winter.  The minimal interest costs can be serviced over the life of the productive investment.