Sunday, November 25, 2007

Economic Consequences of the George W Bush Presidency

The following is an excerpt from an article by the Nobel laureate in Economics Joseph Stiglitz. You are encouraged to read the full article in Vanity Fair of December 2007.

When we look back someday at the catastrophe that was
the Bush administration, we will think of many things:
the tragedy of the Iraq war, the shame of Guantanamo
and Abu Ghraib, the erosion of civil liberties. The
damage done to the American economy does not make
front-page headlines every day, but the repercussions
will be felt beyond the lifetime of anyone reading this

I can hear an irritated counterthrust already. The
president has not driven the United States into a
recession during his almost seven years in office.
Unemployment stands at a respectable 4.6 percent. Well,
fine. But the other side of the ledger groans with
distress: a tax code that has become hideously biased
in favor of the rich; a national debt that will
probably have grown 70 percent by the time this
president leaves Washington; a swelling cascade of
mortgage defaults; a record near-$850 billion trade
deficit; oil prices that are higher than they have ever
been; and a dollar so weak that for an American to buy
a cup of coffee in London or Paris-or even the
Yukon-becomes a venture in high finance.

And it gets worse. After almost seven years of this
president, the United States is less prepared than ever
to face the future. We have not been educating enough
engineers and scientists, people with the skills we
will need to compete with China and India. We have not
been investing in the kinds of basic research that made
us the technological powerhouse of the late 20th
century. And although the president now understands-or
so he says-that we must begin to wean ourselves from
oil and coal, we have on his watch become more deeply
dependent on both.

Up to now, the conventional wisdom has been that
Herbert Hoover, whose policies aggravated the Great
Depression, is the odds-on claimant for the mantle
'worst president' when it comes to stewardship of the
American economy. Once Franklin Roosevelt assumed
office and reversed Hoover's policies, the country
began to recover. The economic effects of Bush's
presidency are more insidious than those of Hoover,
harder to reverse, and likely to be longer-lasting.
There is no threat of America's being displaced from
its position as the world's richest economy. But our
grandchildren will still be living with, and struggling
with, the economic consequences of Mr. Bush.