Friday, December 30, 2011
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Happy Days Are Here Again!
Don't believe the naysayers: An economic recovery is right around the corner.By Matthew Yglesias
Posted Friday, Dec 30, 2011, at 07:22 PM ET
Economic forecasting is a mug's game. There are simply too many unknowable factors that affect "the economy" for anyone to make accurate predictions. The Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster, for instance, had a noticeably negative macroeconomic impact around the world, and nobody knows what lurks inside the hearts of central bankers. Plus, if I did possess the secrets to the future, I'd be making a fortune as a speculator, not telling you about it.
Still, the application of economic theory should be able to help us avoid the commonplace error of simply assuming that the future will be like the past, that after 18 months of sluggish growth we're due for sluggish growth to continue. The conventional wisdom is that the relatively strong growth in the fourth quarter was a false dawn, and the economy is destined to stall out. This is mistaken. Some tragic unforeseen disaster could hit us, but if it doesn't we should be in for a string of increasingly strong quarters and accelerating growth that put us back on the path to full employment.
My guru in this prediction is Karl Smith, an economist at the University of North Carolina, one of the authors of the Modeled Behavior blog, and one of the few sources who saw through the cloak of pessimism this past summer and accurately called for a strong close to the year. But in a deeper sense, I'm following the long-dead Swedish economist Knut Wicksell, whose work is ...
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