The Instigator
Jake-migkillertwo
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
Wallstreetatheist
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Fiscal and Monetary Stimulus is a net positive during recessions

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Jake-migkillertwo
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/14/2012 Category: Economics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,179 times Debate No: 22849
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (0)
Votes (1)

 

Jake-migkillertwo

Pro

First round is to accept my challenge.
Wallstreetatheist

Con

Welcome to DDO, young Padawan.

As an avid defender of freedom, sound economics, and morality, I accept this challenge as I love to debate with those deluded into religious and political dogma.
Please accept this as a better stated, full resolution: Resolved: Government fiscal and monetary stimulus is a positive response to economic downturns.

DDO is pretty insistent that resolutions be clear and straightforward as the entire debate structure derives from it.

This is sure to be a classic clash of Keynesian witchdoctor economics vs. Sound economics!

For those of you readers who do not know what Keynesians are, this is what your typical Keynesian economist looks like:
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However, many of the esteemed Keynesians over the years have been specially groomed to fit in with the government, academia, and socialist circles such as Ben Bernanke in his traditional Muslim garb and Paul Krugman in his homosexual attire:





And here's Keynes rocking a legit T of himself from back in the day:





Overall my opponent has a vast arsenal of arguments in which to utilize such as:







Now, I look forward to a very mature and intellectually erotic debate with my opponent and wish him great luck in crafting his opening arguments. May someone have mercy on his soul.

-WSA
Debate Round No. 1
Jake-migkillertwo

Pro

Since WallStreetAtheist posted some arguments in his acceptance post, I feel compelled to respond to some of his "points."

"Please accept this as a better stated, full resolution: Resolved: Government fiscal and monetary stimulus is a positive response to economic downturns."

As we shall see later, the resolution is a bit vague for the sake of grabbing attention. Strictly speaking, there are certain recessions where fiscal and monetary stimulus would be counter-productive. Take for instance the recession between Carter and Reagan, or the "stagflationary" 70s. In such a situation, for reasons I shall expound upon later, fiscal and monetary stimuli would, rather than increasing output, create unexpected inflation, and all the attendant harms that such inflation causes.

Now, despite what the crudely drawn cartoon of Ben Bernanke would have you believe, Quantitative easing is much more complicated than "giving banks dollars and hoping something good comes out of it."

Now, on to my opening argument. I first want to explain the theory, or economic models, behind Fiscal and Monetary stimulus and then show some empirical evidence to test these models.

Let's talk about one of the first principles of macroeconomics: The Quantity Theory of Money. The quantity theory of money can be expressed in the following equation: Quantity of Money x Velocity of money = Price x number of transactions (output). The quantity of money is just that, the amount of money that exists in a closed economy. Velocity is the amount of times that money changes hands, or how many transactions any given piece of money goes through. Prices are the nominal amount of money charged for a good or service, and the output is the number of end-user goods and services that are sold in a given closed economy.

In classical and neoclassical economics (which almost every economist uses), output is fixed by the factors of production. At any one moment, there are only so many people who are willing to work, and there is only so much capital (which is all non-human factors of production) to augment their labor. This determines the amount of goods and services that an economy can produce. So, holding output fixed, an increase or decrease in the quantity or velocity of money will cause the price of goods to rise or fall. This tells us that a long-run policy of expansionary monetary policy will, all else equal, cause inflation in the long run.
Keynesian economists, however, base their theory one one vital insight: long run conditions do not hold in the short run. In the long run, prices of goods sold will adjust to the quantity and velocity of money. However, in the short run, for various reasons including unionization, menu costs, long-term contracts, prices are not flexible. Rather, they are downwardly rigid or "sticky."

In the short run, if the economy's demand for money increases or the quantity of money is reduced due to bank failure, the price of goods may not adjust quickly enough to accommodate for the reduced quantity and velocity of money.

Recall my earlier exposition of the Quantity Theory of Money, or Q x V = P x O. If we hold the variable P(rices) constant, and we reduce the Q and/or V variables, the output of the nation's economy will be reduced, necessarily.

This is why anti-government and explicitly anti-Keynesian, or anti-Krugman economists, like Thomas Sowell or Milton Friedman, grant that counter-cyclical measures during deflationary recessions reduce the severity of recessions. Friedman admitted as much here: , and Thomas Sowell stated as much explicitly on page 469 of "Basic Economics", 4th ed.

Now that we have a rough idea of the theory behind Keynesian economics (The actual theory is far more complicated, for a good introduction I would recommend N. Gregory Mankiw's excellent "Macroeconomics"), let's look at the data. Keynesian economics predicts that, following periods of sharp deflation, there should be high unemployment. This is exactly what happened during the 1929-1933 recession. Austrian economists like Bob Murphy explicitly deny this fact. Murphy has stated that the federal reserve reduced interest rates and that its "tightwad policy" was not the cause of the depression. Murphy argues this much at length in chapter 3 of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal." What Murphy and many other Austrians conveniently ignore is that deflation was sharp and the monetary base contracted significantly during the '29-33 recession, and the Federal reserve in 1931 did raise the discount rate. While government policies of keeping wage rates high (Roosevelt and Hoover, moronically, thought that wages of industrial workers ought to be kept high so they could buy the output of the firms that they work for) no doubt had a negative impact, the increased spending by the federal government did not.

Furthermore, Keynesian economics predicts that, in a demand-driven recovery, inflation should be high. While World War two, by itself, did not get the United states out of the private economy, as Robert Higgs excellently showed, this does not disprove Keynesian economics for, as he and Woods have pointed out, wartime price and wage controls turned the United States into a completely centrally-planned economy. However, if there was "pent up demand", as Thomas Woods mocked in his lecture "Keynesian economists vs. American History", then we should see that inflation skyrocketed before and as private output increased in 1946. Lo and Behold, this is exactly what we find when looking at GDP and inflation figures for the 1940s. As private output increased after the war, so too did inflation.
There are times where fiscal and monetary stimulus would be counter-productive, such as in the stagflationary 70s. The reason for this is that the particular recession was caused by supply-side factors. Labor costs rose and the oil supply dropped due to an OPEC embargo, and for this reason the ability of the nation to produce goods was dropped.

Recall the quantity theory of money. Q x V = P x O. In this case, supply side factors caused O to drop, and since Q and V were, for the most part, fixed, P had to rise. Since a nation's maximum output is fixed by its factors of production, an increase in Q or V would not have caused O to rise. However, when O is below its maximum, increasing Q or V can increase O.

I myself have serious problems with Austrian economics right now, but I will save those criticisms for later posts.

In conclusion, The proposition that Fiscal and Monetary stimuli are net positives during deflationary recessions is based on sound theoretical foundations, and comports strongly with empirical evidence, of which I only mustered a tiny portion.

Thank you for reading.
Wallstreetatheist

Con

I'm running out of time and I'm at school where I can't access google chrome. We can re-do this entire debate, or you can yield your next round, so I can post my arguments.
Debate Round No. 2
Jake-migkillertwo

Pro

I yield this round so my opponent may post his arguments at a more convenient time.
Wallstreetatheist

Con

I concede this debate to you and will do so for each following round as I have three and a half minutes left to post.

I'll debate this topic with you again when I am less busy.

-WSA
Debate Round No. 3
Jake-migkillertwo

Pro

Well I'm very disappointed that WSA could not take up my challenge. I will not post anymore in this thread and will issue a second challenge with the same resolution to anyone else who wishes to argue on this topic.
Wallstreetatheist

Con

Once my stack of debates is clean, I'd love to.

-WSA
Debate Round No. 4
Wallstreetatheist

Con

"Please accept this as a better stated, full resolution: Resolved: Government fiscal and monetary stimulus is a positive response to economic downturns."

As we shall see later, the resolution is a bit vague for the sake of grabbing attention. Strictly speaking, there are certain recessions where fiscal and monetary stimulus would be counter-productive. Take for instance the recession between Carter and Reagan, or the "stagflationary" 70s. In such a situation, for reasons I shall expound upon later, fiscal and monetary stimuli would, rather than increasing output, create unexpected inflation, and all the attendant harms that such inflation causes.

Now, despite what the crudely drawn cartoon of Ben Bernanke would have you believe, Quantitative easing is much more complicated than "giving banks dollars and hoping something good comes out of it."

Now, on to my opening argument. I first want to explain the theory, or economic models, behind Fiscal and Monetary stimulus and then show some empirical evidence to test these models.

Let's talk about one of the first principles of macroeconomics: The Quantity Theory of Money. The quantity theory of money can be expressed in the following equation: Quantity of Money x Velocity of money = Price x number of transactions (output). The quantity of money is just that, the amount of money that exists in a closed economy. Velocity is the amount of times that money changes hands, or how many transactions any given piece of money goes through. Prices are the nominal amount of money charged for a good or service, and the output is the number of end-user goods and services that are sold in a given closed economy.

In classical and neoclassical economics (which almost every economist uses), output is fixed by the factors of production. At any one moment, there are only so many people who are willing to work, and there is only so much capital (which is all non-human factors of production) to augment their labor. This determines the amount of goods and services that an economy can produce. So, holding output fixed, an increase or decrease in the quantity or velocity of money will cause the price of goods to rise or fall. This tells us that a long-run policy of expansionary monetary policy will, all else equal, cause inflation in the long run.
Keynesian economists, however, base their theory one one vital insight: long run conditions do not hold in the short run. In the long run, prices of goods sold will adjust to the quantity and velocity of money. However, in the short run, for various reasons including unionization, menu costs, long-term contracts, prices are not flexible. Rather, they are downwardly rigid or "sticky."

In the short run, if the economy's demand for money increases or the quantity of money is reduced due to bank failure, the price of goods may not adjust quickly enough to accommodate for the reduced quantity and velocity of money.

Recall my earlier exposition of the Quantity Theory of Money, or Q x V = P x O. If we hold the variable P(rices) constant, and we reduce the Q and/or V variables, the output of the nation's economy will be reduced, necessarily.

This is why anti-government and explicitly anti-Keynesian, or anti-Krugman economists, like Thomas Sowell or Milton Friedman, grant that counter-cyclical measures during deflationary recessions reduce the severity of recessions. Friedman admitted as much here: , and Thomas Sowell stated as much explicitly on page 469 of "Basic Economics", 4th ed.

Now that we have a rough idea of the theory behind Keynesian economics (The actual theory is far more complicated, for a good introduction I would recommend N. Gregory Mankiw's excellent "Macroeconomics"), let's look at the data. Keynesian economics predicts that, following periods of sharp deflation, there should be high unemployment. This is exactly what happened during the 1929-1933 recession. Austrian economists like Bob Murphy explicitly deny this fact. Murphy has stated that the federal reserve reduced interest rates and that its "tightwad policy" was not the cause of the depression. Murphy argues this much at length in chapter 3 of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal." What Murphy and many other Austrians conveniently ignore is that deflation was sharp and the monetary base contracted significantly during the '29-33 recession, and the Federal reserve in 1931 did raise the discount rate. While government policies of keeping wage rates high (Roosevelt and Hoover, moronically, thought that wages of industrial workers ought to be kept high so they could buy the output of the firms that they work for) no doubt had a negative impact, the increased spending by the federal government did not.

Furthermore, Keynesian economics predicts that, in a demand-driven recovery, inflation should be high. While World War two, by itself, did not get the United states out of the private economy, as Robert Higgs excellently showed, this does not disprove Keynesian economics for, as he and Woods have pointed out, wartime price and wage controls turned the United States into a completely centrally-planned economy. However, if there was "pent up demand", as Thomas Woods mocked in his lecture "Keynesian economists vs. American History", then we should see that inflation skyrocketed before and as private output increased in 1946. Lo and Behold, this is exactly what we find when looking at GDP and inflation figures for the 1940s. As private output increased after the war, so too did inflation.
There are times where fiscal and monetary stimulus would be counter-productive, such as in the stagflationary 70s. The reason for this is that the particular recession was caused by supply-side factors. Labor costs rose and the oil supply dropped due to an OPEC embargo, and for this reason the ability of the nation to produce goods was dropped.

Recall the quantity theory of money. Q x V = P x O. In this case, supply side factors caused O to drop, and since Q and V were, for the most part, fixed, P had to rise. Since a nation's maximum output is fixed by its factors of production, an increase in Q or V would not have caused O to rise. However, when O is below its maximum, increasing Q or V can increase O.

I myself have serious problems with Austrian economics right now, but I will save those criticisms for later posts.

In conclusion, The proposition that Fiscal and Monetary stimuli are net positives during deflationary recessions is based on sound theoretical foundations, and comports strongly with empirical evidence, of which I only mustered a tiny portion.

Thank you for reading.
Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by airmax1227 4 years ago
airmax1227
Jake-migkillertwoWallstreetatheistTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con conceded.