Principles of Economics- Mankiw (5th) 767

Principles of Economics- Mankiw (5th) 767 - must go through...

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CHAPTER 34 FIVE DEBATES OVER MACROECONOMIC POLICY 793 CON: POLICYMAKERS SHOULD NOT TRY TO STABILIZE THE ECONOMY Although monetary and fiscal policy can be used to stabilize the economy in the- ory, there are substantial obstacles to the use of such policies in practice. One problem is that monetary and fiscal policy do not affect the economy im- mediately but instead work with a long lag. Monetary policy affects aggregate de- mand by changing interest rates, which in turn affect spending, especially residential and business investment. But many households and firms set their spending plans in advance. As a result, it takes time for changes in interest rates to alter the aggregate demand for goods and services. Many studies indicate that changes in monetary policy have little effect on aggregate demand until about six months after the change is made. Fiscal policy works with a lag because of the long political process that gov- erns changes in spending and taxes. To make any change in fiscal policy, a bill
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Unformatted text preview: must go through congressional committees, pass both the House and the Senate, and be signed by the president. It can take years to propose, pass, and implement a major change in fiscal policy. Because of these long lags, policymakers who want to stabilize the economy need to look ahead to economic conditions that are likely to prevail when their ac-tions will take effect. Unfortunately, economic forecasting is highly imprecise, in part because macroeconomics is such a primitive science and in part because the shocks that cause economic fluctuations are intrinsically unpredictable. Thus, when policymakers change monetary or fiscal policy, they must rely on educated guesses about future economic conditions. All too often, policymakers trying to stabilize the economy do just the oppo-site. Economic conditions can easily change between the time when a policy action begins and when it takes effect. Because of this, policymakers can inadvertently...
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