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Stimulus Benefited the Economy - Economists

Toro

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According to a survey of economists by the Wall Street Journal, the federal stimulus programs, including those implemented by the Fed, were a positive influence on the economy.

The $787 billion stimulus package was a good for the U.S. economy, but the Federal Reserve played the biggest role in rescuing the economy from the financial crisis, according to the majority of economists in the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey.

"A much worse result would have occurred if nothing had been done," said survey participant Allen Sinai of Decision Economics, co-author of a paper examining the effects of government intervention with colleague Paul Edelstein. But "the absence of monetary policy easing [by the Fed] would have resulted in a much worse economy than the absence of the fiscal policy stimulus."

Thirty-eight of the 54 surveyed economists, not all of whom answered every question, said the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act boosted growth and mitigated job losses, while six said the legislation had a net negative effect.

On average, economists estimated that the stimulus added one percentage point to growth in 2009; they forecast gross domestic product would expand 3% this year, compared with 2.2% in the absence of stimulus. They estimated that the February unemployment rate, reported at 9.7% last week, would have been 10.4% without the stimulus.

But the Fed's interventions likely played a bigger role in pulling the economy out of its tailspin, economists said. In their paper, Messrs. Sinai and Edelstein estimated that the Fed's actions boosted GDP growth by 1.9 percentage points in 2009 and would add 3.3 points this year.

The survey respondents broadly agreed. When asked which government policies played the biggest role in resuscitating the U.S. economy, 25 respondents chose low interest rates and 13 said it was the central bank's purchases of Treasurys and mortgages. Eight cited the bank stress tests and related capital-raising by banks. Just three said the stimulus played the biggest role.

Fed Gets Credit for Rescue - WSJ.com
 

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