More on Christina Romer's Anti-Recession Fight

My colleague Joshua Green has a good item today about Christina Romer's reported fight inside the Administration to make the stimulus efforts bigger and faster and more sustained, and to worry less about "deficit spending" complaints.

As a supplement to that item, it's worth reading a speech Romer gave yesterday at the National Press Club. She defends what the Administration did but also makes clear that she thinks a lot more needs to be done, and fast. Samples of both arguments after the jump, but the whole speech, which is relatively short, deserves attention. It's available as PDF here.

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From Romer's speech, what has worked so far:

These unprecedented, pragmatic policy actions [by the Administration] have made an enormous difference. On the financial side, the stress test reassured investors and set off a wave of private capital-raising that was exactly what the system needed. Credit spreads -- an indicator of perceived risk -- have returned almost to pre-crisis levels. And while credit remains tight for consumers and small businesses, lending standards have stopped tightening and are gradually starting to loosen. Large firms are able to borrow at favorable rates and get the credit they need for investment and day-to-day operations. And the financial industry has paid back U.S. taxpayers at a rate few thought possible.

In the automobile industry, Chrysler and GM have emerged from bankruptcy; and in the first half of this year, all three of the American automakers operated at a profit for the first time in six years. Employment in motor vehicles and parts has increased by almost 80,000 since its low point in June 2009.

And what more needs to be done:

The United States still faces a substantial shortfall of aggregate demand. GDP by most estimates is still about 6 percent below trend. This shortfall in demand, rather than structural changes in the composition of our output or a mismatch between worker skills and jobs, is the fundamental cause of our continued high unemployment. Firms aren't producing and hiring at normal levels simply because there isn't demand for a normal level of output.... The only surefire ways for policymakers to substantially increase aggregate demand in the short run are for the government to spend more and tax less. In my view, we should be moving forward on both fronts.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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