How effective have stimulus packages been in the past?

BY Paul Solman  January 28, 2008 at 11:30 AM EDT

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.