It's Summerstime in the Fiscal Policy World

Larry Summers, the Administration's top economist (and former CRFB board member), has an op-ed in the Financial Times today, looking at why the current debate in Congress muddies the fiscal waters.

MarketWatch: July 12-16

The (brief) stock market rally had dominated trading in the earlier part of the week. However, investor interest in U.S. government bonds picked up again toward the end of the trading week with a refocus on safe haven effects and increased signs of U.S. economic weakness. As a result, yields on the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond dipped below 3 percent again and came close to lows for the past year. (Yield haves been below 3 percent a lot of the time since late June and now.) The 30-year government bond has performed similarly.

Measuring the Effects of ARRA

According to the Council of Economic Advisors’ (CEA) quarterly report on the continuing effects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) (see our analysis of ARRA here), the magnitude of the fiscal stimulus and its positive effect on the U.S. economy have been increasing substantially in the first half of 2010 (from $108 billion in Q1 of 2010 to $116 billion in Q2).

MarketWatch July 5-9

Markets are justifiably confused about the strength of the economy: is growth slowing? Is it slowing a lot or just a little? Will it keep chugging along and sustain forward momentum as fiscal stimulus lessens? A reasonable case can be made for any of these views based on a reading of key indicators in the U.S., Europe and China.

Weekend Editorial Roundup

Here are the highlights from this weekend’s editorials on fiscal and budget policy:

The Denver Post said that although they opposed a large stimulus package, they did not believe that Congress should penny pinch on the unemployed in the current economic situation. Noting the recent upward trends in unemployment claims, they believed that it was important to extend benefits in an economic climate where "even the most talented and ambitious job-seekers" cannot find a job. The Post believed that the benefits of extending unemployment benefits outweighed the costs of not paying for them.

MARKETWATCH June 28- July 2

Initial market reactions to the June employment report confirms trends over the week. While safe haven effects have continued to underpin investor demand for U.S. Treasury instruments, investors have increasingly turned their focus from crisis (mainly in the eurozone) to mounting signs of weakness in the U.S. economy.
Thoughout this week, markets reacted to a series of reports raising questions about whether the U.S. economy is downshifting to a sluggish pace or even risks a double dip recession.

Fiscal Consolidations: How and When

Alberto Alesina of Harvard University has a new paper out that talks about how differences in the composition of debt reduction packages make a difference in terms of success. He looks at which contractions have been fiscally successful, less harmful to growth, fiscally unsuccessful, or more harmful to growth. In addition, he examines the political ramifications of tightening fiscal policy and whether they necessarily lead to the incumbent being voted out of office.


Yes, financial markets too are being affected by the World Cup. So far today, trading is quiet – even though today is one of the famous Triple Witching Days (which is not about Harry Potter but the day each quarter when contracts in three main markets must be settled and which are famous for being unpredictable). Sometimes however thin markets can be volatile.

MARKETWATCH: June 11, 2010

U.S. financial markets this week have continued to be dominated by global capital seeking a safe haven in U.S. Treasury instruments, as the eurozone continues to struggle getting its fiscal problems under control. When safe haven effects kick in due to fears about problems with the U.S. recovery or elsewhere, investors turn to U.S. Treasury instruments and U.S. interest rates go down. When investors become more bullish over U.S. economic prospects (including relative to other countries), the U.S. stock markets looks better and assets are shifted from the bond markets.

Hensarling Comes Close

In testimony before the House Budget Committee this week, Ben Bernanke called for a plan to be put in place now to reduce deficits once the economy recovers. Already being a (frequently re-affirmed) member of the Announcement Effect Club, Bernanke's testimony was no surprise to readers of our blog or anyone who is familiar with Bernanke's public statements.

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