I happened to stumble upon Greg Mankiw’s blog the other day. According to his bio, Mankiw is the Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics at Harvard University. One blog post happened to catch my attention, titled, “News Flash: Economists Agree.” Mankiw published this post in 2009 in response to the stimulus bill. While Mankiw admits that economists are split regarding the effects of the business cycle, more specifcally Keynesian economics, he wanted to highlight issues with overwhelming consensus among economists.
According to the blog, there is general consensus among economists on the following issues:
- A ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available. (93%)
- Tariffs and import quotas usually reduce general economic welfare. (93%)
- Flexible and floating exchange rates offer an effective international monetary arrangement. (90%)
- Fiscal policy (e.g., tax cut and/or government expenditure increase) has a significant stimulative impact on a less than fully employed economy. (90%)
- The United States should not restrict employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries. (90%)
- The United States should eliminate agricultural subsidies. (85%)
- Local and state governments should eliminate subsidies to professional sports franchises. (85%)
- If the federal budget is to be balanced, it should be done over the business cycle rather than yearly. (85%)
- The gap between Social Security funds and expenditures will become unsustainably large within the next fifty years if current policies remain unchanged. (85%)
- Cash payments increase the welfare of recipients to a greater degree than do transfers-in-kind of equal cash value. (84%)
- A large federal budget deficit has an adverse effect on the economy. (83%)
- A minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers. (79%)
- The government should restructure the welfare system along the lines of a “negative income tax.” (79%)
- Effluent taxes and marketable pollution permits represent a better approach to pollution control than imposition of pollution ceilings. (78%)
At the end of his post, Mankiw states that (#4) “does not distinguish between taxes and spending as the best tool for purposes of macro stabilization.”
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