As she prepares to leave The White House, outgoing economic advisor Christina Romer has delivered something of a valedictory speech to the National Press Club. The title: Not My Father’s Recession.
For Romer, her Father’s recession was the one in the early 80s, when unemployment surged above 10%, and Romer’s own father got laid off.
But the title basically tells you what you need to know: It’s different this time — this recession was not anything like the Fed-induced recession of her father — and the old recovery playbook could not possibly go as anticipated.
Here’s the key part of the text, via Brad DeLong’s blog:
But compared with the problems we face, the turnaround has been insufficient….
In a report that Jared Bernstein and I issued during the transition, we estimated that by the end of 2010, a stimulus package like the Recovery Act would raise real GDP by about 3 1⁄2 per cent and employment by about 31⁄2 million jobs, relative to what otherwise would have occurred. As the Council of Economic Advisers has documented in a series of reports to Congress, there is widespread agreement that the Act is broadly on track to meet these milestones….
What the Act hasn’t done is prevent unemployment from going above 8 per cent, something else that Jared and I projected it would do. The reason that prediction was so far off is implicit in much of what I have been saying this afternoon. An estimate of what the economy will look like if a policy is adopted contains two components: a forecast of what would happen in the absence of the policy, and an estimate of the effect of the policy. As I’ve described, our estimates of the impact of the Recovery Act have proven quite accurate. But we, like virtually every other forecaster, failed to anticipate just how violent the recession would be in the absence of policy, and the degree to which the usual relationship between GDP and unemployment would break down.
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