In Which We Survey 30 Conservative Economists on How to Fix the Economy, 1: Survey Q&A

Unemployment is projected to be very high, and inflation low, for the foreseeable future.  And we just had a wave election in which Republicans were elected in large numbers running on a thin-to-none economic platform.

I realized I had very little understanding on where the conservative economic mind was these days.  In the spirit of “If you want to know what a conservative economist who opposes the Obama administration thinks, ask one”, shortly after the election I decided to do a very unscientific survey.

I had beleaguered Roosevelt Institute intern Charlie Eisenhood use a computer to randomly select 100 names off this list of 200 economists that signed a Cato letter opposing the ARRA stimulus bill in early 2009.  I figured this was likely going to be a group of those opposed to future fiscal/monetary policy to fight unemployment, and I wanted to see what they were thinking.  He then emailed them a survey I created. He emailed once, then again as a reminder a week later, for a total of 29 responses.

This post has their answers to the survey questions. Questions 2-4 also had a write-in box I strongly encouraged people to use; those answers are in the next post. Sorry it is so html tables 101 about it. The “Mean” column will give you a sense of where this group of economists are, there’s surprisingly little dispersion in the answers.  I’ll leave it to you to draw conclusions.

1. Do you currently agree with your previous stance in opposition to the ARRA? Please answer on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being totally disagree with previous stance, 10 being totally agree with previous stance.
1 – Totally Disagree 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 – Totally Agree Rating
Average
Response
Count
Agreement with Previous Stance 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 3.4% (1) 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 6.9% (2) 89.7% (26) 9.76 29

2. Which of the following informed your disagreement with the fiscal stimulus policy? Please answer on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being not a factor and 10 being a very strong factor.
1 – Not a Factor 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 – Very Strong Factor Mean #
Debt-financed government spending will necessarily crowd out nearly equal amounts of private spending. 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 3.7% (1) 0.0% (0) 18.5% (5) 3.7% (1) 3.7% (1) 18.5% (5) 25.9% (7) 25.9% (7) 7.93 27
Debt-financed government spending in 2009 would lead to large increases in interest rates, which would lead to high inflation. 36.0% (9) 8.0% (2) 0.0% (0) 4.0% (1) 12.0% (3) 4.0% (1) 16.0% (4) 4.0% (1) 4.0% (1) 12.0% (3) 4.52 25
Unemployment is mostly a function of a combination of bad work incentives, skills mismatch and other supply-side issues, and would not be alleviated by demand-side stimulus. 0.0% (0) 4.2% (1) 12.5% (3) 4.2% (1) 8.3% (2) 12.5% (3) 4.2% (1) 33.3% (8) 12.5% (3) 8.3% (2) 6.71 24
However useful theoretically, fiscal stimulus would have too much of a lag and be too politicized to address the recession. 4.0% (1) 12.0% (3) 4.0% (1) 12.0% (3) 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 16.0% (4) 4.0% (1) 24.0% (6) 24.0% (6) 6.88 25
I disagreed with the idea of increasing aid to state and local government. 4.2%(1) 8.3% (2) 12.5% (3) 4.2% (1) 12.5% (3) 4.2% (1) 16.7% (4) 12.5% (3) 12.5% (3) 12.5% (3) 6.17 24
Unconventional monetary stimulus, even at the zero bound, is more appropriate than fiscal policy. 28.0% (7) 8.0% (2) 16.0% (4) 4.0% (1) 8.0% (2) 4.0% (1) 4.0% (1) 12.0% (3) 0.0% (0) 16.0% (4) 4.56 25

We included a box where people could give their own answers. Those will be posted in the next entry.

3. As of September 2010, national unemployment is at 9.6%. What of the following is responsible for unemployment being so high? Please answer each on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being not at all factor in unemployment, 10 being a very strong factor..
1 – Not a Factor 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 – Very Strong Factor Mean #
Policy uncertainty resulting from the Obama administration’s passed laws, including health care and financial reform. 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 7.7% (2) 0.0% (0) 15.4% (4) 26.9% (7) 50.0% (13) 9.12 26
Skills-mismatch, where workers are overly invested in the wrong skills necessary for new jobs. 4.0% (1) 16.0% (4) 16.0% (4) 12.0% (3) 4.0% (1) 16.0% (4) 24.0% (6) 0.0% (0) 4.0% (1) 4.0% (1) 4.92 25
Concerns over the size of the United States’ budget deficit, future tax increases, inflation and government solvency and credibility. 3.7% (1) 3.7% (1) 0.0% (0) 7.4% (2) 0.0% (0) 3.7% (1) 11.1% (3) 37.0% (10) 22.2% (6) 11.1% (3) 7.48 27
A tone and atmosphere of hostility from the government towards the general business community. 0.0% (0) 3.8% (1) 7.7% (2) 0.0% (0) 11.5% (3) 3.8% (1) 15.4% (4) 23.1% (6) 23.1% (6) 11.5% (3) 7.27 26
A lack of aggregate demand, where consumers are saving too much and don’t have enough purchasing power. 19.2% (5) 19.2% (5) 11.5% (3) 7.7% (2) 0.0% (0) 26.9% (7) 3.8% (1) 7.7% (2) 3.8% (1) 0.0% (0) 4.08 26
An uncompetitive dollar, reflecting excessive global savings in the US. 24.0% (6) 20.0% (5) 20.0% (5) 0.0% (0) 16.0% (4) 0.0% (0) 8.0% (2) 0.0% (0) 8.0% (2) 4.0% (1) 3.72 25

We included a box where people could give their own answers. Those will be posted in the next entry.

4. What could the government do to get growth up and unemployment down? Please answer each on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being very counterproductive, 10 being a strong case for growth, 5 making no difference.
1Very

Counter

productive

2 3 4 5No differ

ence

6 7 8 9 10Strong Case For Growth Mean #
Additional monetary stimulus in the form of quantitative easing and other unconventional tools? 18.5% (5) 22.2% (6) 14.8% (4) 0.0% (0) 3.7% (1) 14.8% (4) 7.4% (2) 11.1% (3) 3.7% (1) 3.7% (1) 4.26 27
Additional aid to state and local governments? 37.0% (10) 11.1% (3) 22.2% (6) 3.7% (1) 11.1% (3) 7.4% (2) 0.0% (0) 3.7% (1) 3.7% (1) 0.0% (0) 3.04 27
Extending unemployment benefits, to encourage job searches and as a stimulus measure? 55.6% (15) 11.1% (3) 14.8% (4) 7.4% (2) 3.7% (1) 3.7% (1) 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 3.7% (1) 0.0% (0) 2.26 27
A partial extension of the Bush tax cuts for individuals making less than $200,000 and households making less than $250,000? 7.4% (2) 3.7% (1) 3.7% (1) 7.4% (2) 7.4% (2) 14.8% (4) 29.6% (8) 14.8% (4) 11.1% (3) 0.0% (0) 6.07 27
A full extension of all Bush tax cuts, including for individuals making more than $200,000 and households making more than $250,000? 6.9% (2) 0.0% (0) 3.4% (1) 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 6.9% (2) 3.4% (1) 17.2% (5) 24.1% (7) 37.9% (11) 8.17 29
Further tax cuts not financed through spending cuts? 7.7% (2) 0.0% (0) 3.8% (1) 0.0% (0) 30.8% (8) 19.2% (5) 15.4% (4) 3.8% (1) 11.5% (3) 7.7% (2) 6.08 26
A payroll tax holiday? 11.5% (3) 11.5% (3) 7.7% (2) 3.8% (1) 0.0% (0) 19.2% (5) 15.4% (4) 7.7% (2) 15.4% (4) 7.7% (2) 5.73 26
Additional infrastructure spending? 25.9% (7) 18.5% (5) 3.7% (1) 11.1% (3) 11.1% (3) 22.2% (6) 7.4% (2) 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 3.59 27

We included a box where people could give their own answers. Those will be posted in the next entry.

Feel free to leave your answers to the survey in the comment section below.

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5 Responses to In Which We Survey 30 Conservative Economists on How to Fix the Economy, 1: Survey Q&A

  1. Pingback: In Which We Survey 30 Conservative Economists on How to Fix the Economy, 2: Bring Your Own Solutions « Rortybomb

  2. Brian Murphy says:

    So they’ve just given up on empiricism.

  3. yorksranter says:

    How on earth do they manage to believe 1) and not 2)? Higher interest rates are the mechanism of action of crowding out. If this isn’t Econ 101, it’s certainly first-year.

  4. zarkinfrood says:

    The proof is in the pudding. Government cannot act, it reacts, therefor anything they come up with is already too late to reach any effective goals.

    This is true with the stimulus, it is true with the TSA and it is also true with anything you think will be effective from the “healthcare” bill.

    Well regulated free-enterprise will find entrepreneurial solutions where government can only create impotent policy. Of the former we had zilch, of the later we have a plethora. If you think we have been living in a capitalistic society the last 50 years, you are falling victim to the political rhetoric. The best political system to describe what we have is either corporatism or fascism( with increasing overtones of socialism). Both have documented results similar to what we have just witnessed over history.

  5. John Haskell says:

    was this survey ever re-published in a format that would allow me to see how many economists answered “9” or “10” on the survey? Or does the grey margin on the right obscure that information in all versions? It would be interesting to have this information.

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