Economists: Stimulus package helped

Nov. 21, 2009 at 10:00 AM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- A consensus has formed among U.S. economists that President Barack Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus package, though messy, is working, analysts say.

They contend the package did indeed save the American economy from the free-fall it was experiencing a year ago and has helped it to grow, or at least to keep from shedding more jobs than it would have, The New York Times reported Saturday.

"It was worth doing — it's made a difference," Nigel Gault, chief economist at IHS Global Insight of Lexington, Mass., told the newspaper. "I don't think it's right to look at it by saying, 'Well, the economy is still doing extremely badly, therefore the stimulus didn't work.' I'm afraid the answer is, yes, we did badly but we would have done even worse without the stimulus."

"The economy was weaker than we thought at the time, so maybe in retrospect we could have used a little bit more and little bit more front loaded," added Joel Prakken of Macroeconomic Advisers.

But Martin Feldstein, a conservative Harvard economist, told the Times, "There should have been more direct federal spending that would have added to aggregate demand. Temporary tax cuts and one-time transfers to seniors were largely saved and didn't stimulate spending."

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