Robert Lucas Sees Lower Growth Due to Too Much Regulation and Taxes

(p. A15) Robert Lucas, the 1995 Nobel laureate in economics, has spent his career thinking about why economies grow, and in particular about the effect of policy making on growth. From his office at the University of Chicago, Prof. Lucas has been wondering, like the rest of us, why, if the recession officially ended in the first half of 2009, there hasn’t been more growth in the U.S. economy. He’s also been wondering why this delayed recovery resembles the long non-recovery years of the 1930s. And he has been thinking about the U.S. and Europe.

In May, Bob Lucas pulled his thoughts together and delivered them as the Milliman Lecture at the University of Washington, an exercise he described to me this week as “intelligent speculation.”
Here is the lecture’s provocative final thought: “Is it possible that by imitating European policies on labor markets, welfare and taxes, the U.S. has chosen a new, lower GDP trend? If so, it may be that the weak recovery we have had so far is all the recovery we will get.”
. . .
“If we’re going to move to a European welfare state,” says Prof. Lucas, “we’re going to have to pay a European price.” And that price could be a permanently lower level of GDP per person. The U.S.’s amazing 100-year ride would slow.
Among the many things any such drop in GDP will siphon away is America’s relentless productive vitality. “So much new happens in the United States,” Prof. Lucas says. But will it still?

For the full commentary, see:
DANIEL HENNINGER. “The Disappearing Recovery; What if the weak recovery is all the recovery we are going to get?” The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., JULY 14, 2011): A15.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: online version of article had the date JULY 13, 2011.)

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