On the straight economics, this solution is nearly identical to the 2008 Bush/Pelosi stimulus. In that case, Congress sent money to everyone and paid for it by issuing debt. Later, the Fed bought more than that amount’s worth of Treasury bonds. (In this case, we would simply avoid that two-step process: Congress would hand over the reins directly to the Fed.) This similarity leads many economists to be skeptical of the helicopter solution as redundant. “I’m all for fiscal and monetary stimulus,” Paul Krugman told me in late January. “But I don’t see helicopter money as adding anything substantive to the menu of policy tools, or as making the politics any easier.” Free Money Asap
Why? Because the economy has evolved to a point where it is vulnerable to mild depressions. In fact, the one we’re in now could persist for decades, as similar conditions have in Japan and other countries. In order to avoid that slow, painful outcome, we need a policy that will jump-start our economy. After three straight years of political gridlock it’s clear that Congress is not going to provide the fiscal stimulus we need, and while the tools the Federal Reserve has at its disposal have helped, they’ve not done enough. If Congress could be persuaded to give the Fed a new tool, one that would let it distribute purchasing power to the broad mass of the population—to “drop money from helicopters,” so to speak—it might be enough to help us escape the nightmare of slow growth and persistent unemployment we’re in now. Federal Grant Recipient Database