Fiscal-Cliff Winners and Losers

More

I'm not sure who won the fiscal-cliff battle and don't much care--I suppose it was either the Democrats for raising taxes on the rich or the Republicans for entrenching the Bush tax cuts for everybody else. But it's easy to say who lost. That would be the country as a whole.

Actually, it lost twice over. First, because of the uncertainty generated by the ongoing fiscal shambles. And second--a point that seems to have escaped the attention of Democrats who are usually sound on this subject--through the premature fiscal tightening that's just been applied to the economy. As Gavyn Davies explains, this amounts to nearly 2% of GDP, front-loaded in the current calendar year, and that's before any additional tightening that might follow the forthcoming debt-ceiling farce.

The upshot is a fiscal tightening in the US this year which is as large as any imposed in a single year by the UK coalition government, and larger than planned by any other major economy in 2013. The effect on GDP growth is not to be sneezed at, especially since fiscal multipliers seem to be unusually high at present (as IMF Chief Economist Olivier Blanchard once again argued here last week).

The US is likely to do better under this premature tightening than the UK has done, Davies says, because its export markets are stronger and its private sector is running down its financial surplus faster. Nonetheless, it's a mistake that will cost jobs and could have been avoided.

But look on the bright side. At least the rich will be paying more taxes.

Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In