Thursday, October 7, 2010

Can the Obese Eat Their Way to Good Health?

David Wessel's column in today's WSJ discusses the need for more action on the economy. He discusses how there are three views--more stimulus is needed now, stimulus didn't work so have to rely on Fed, and the worry over debt so the need for austerity. He opts for more short-term stimulus combined with credible longer-term deficit reduction. He concludes with noting that financial crises tend to recover slowly, "But is this really the best we can do?"

I don't know if it is the best we can do or not. But, is his solution of short-term stimulus and credible long-term austerity does not seem realistic to me. In theory, one can make a case for it. But what would constitute credible long-term deficit reduction? Congress is expert at promising things long term that either never happen or are changed later due to some new crisis.

Given that many have used medical analogies, I will try one also. For example, I have read where people say that a doctor would be remiss not to do all that is possible for a cancer patient. Agreed. But what if our sick economy is more like health issues related to obesity? It would be wrong to keep feeding the patient to alleviate a symptom since the basic problem is obesity. Similarly, if the problem was too much leverage and debt, then more debt may not be the prudent action to take.

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