No início do ano ainda antes de iniciar funções, Barack Obama declarava
There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jumpstart the economy.
Várias dezenas de economistas reagiram publicando um manifesto que contrariava a ideia da existência de um consenso em torno das soluções keynesianas para a actual crise (“With all due respect Mr.President,that is not true”) [*].
Apesar de ser favorável ao estímulo governamental, mesmo DeLong recusa a existência de um suposto consenso (o que não supreende dado que a defesa da primeira posição não implica que necessariamente se concorde com a segunda) e cita vários exemplos. Dado que Zingales representa[ria] a posição contrária é provável que este debate se centre mais na validade da(s) teoria(s) que sustenta(m) o plano do que na preposição de Obama (que – à partida – se encontra desacreditada).
Vale a pena ler o comentário inicial de de Zingales. Alguns excertos:
[A] (…) possible interpretation is that there exists a consensus among economists that the causes of the current crisis are Keynesian. Even under this interpretation the statement is patently false. I do not think that any economist would dare to say that the current US economic crisis has been caused by underconsumption. With zero personal saving and a large budget deficit the Bush administration has run one of the most aggressive Keynesian policies in history. Not only has adherence to Keynes’s principles not averted the current economic disaster, it has greatly contributed to causing it. The Keynesian desire to manage aggregate demand, ignoring the long-run costs, pushed Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke to keep interest rates extremely low in 2002, fuelling excessive consumption by the household sector and excessive risk-taking by the financial sector. Most importantly, it has been the Keynesian training of our policy-makers that has led them to ignore the role that incentives play in economic decisions.
If Keynesian principles and education are the cause of the current depression, it is hard to imagine they can be the solution. Thus even (…) interpretation (…)—that we should follow Keynesian prescriptions to combat the current economic crisis—is false. I am not disputing the idea that some government intervention can alleviate the current economic conditions, I am disputing that a Keynesian economic policy can do it. With a current-account deficit that in 2008 was $614 billion, a budget deficit that was $455 billion and military expenditures of $731 billion, it is hard to argue that the government is not stimulating demand sufficiently.
Medical science has established that one or two glasses of wine per day are good for your long-term health, but no doctor would recommend a recovering alcoholic to follow this prescription. Unfortunately, Keynesian economists do exactly this. They tell politicians, who are addicted to spending our money, that government expenditures are good. And they tell consumers, who are affected by severe spending problems, that consuming is good, while saving is bad. In medicine, such behaviour would get you expelled from the medical profession; in economics, it gives you a job in Washington.
Acerca dos comentários de Zingales, leiam também o que escreve Peter Klein,
[*] Este manifesto conta já com signatários adicionais.