In the fall of 2007, when the U.S. economy first seemed in peril, I began answering reader queries here on the Business Desk. I still do so occasionally, but this page has expanded to include posts from eminent economists, "far-flung correspondents," and a variety of voices that have intriguing and/or useful things to say about economics, broadly defined. Please feel encouraged to respond to any and all of them.
How effective have stimulus packages been in the past?
City & State:
Question/Comment: How effective have past stimulus packages been at achieving their objectives and their impact against the estimated consequence of taking no active stimulating role?
Paul Solman: Depends what you mean by "achieving their objectives." Last time around, people spent an estimated 17% or so of their rebate checks, if I remember the estimates correctly. But the economy did emerge from recession, right? So, did the package work? That's the fascinating (or exasperating) thing about economics - about all human history, I suppose: even after the fact, you can't really be certain of what happened. And you certainly can't be certain of WHY.