On Monday (December 19, 2016), my blog – US central bank decision to raise interest rates doesn’t make much sense – examined the recent interest rate hike in the US and made a case that it didn’t appear, on the basis of the evidence at hand, to be a well-reasoned policy decision. In researching the case I was struck by how far public gross capital formation has fallen in the US, particularly at the State/Local level as mindless austerity takes its toll. Governments find it easier to cut capital spending than recurrent spending because the ‘costs’ of the those spending cuts are not immediately obvious to the population and, typically, do not manifest until after the political cycle exhausts. Cutting pensions, school outlays, and other recurrent targets usually brings an immediate political outcry because the impacts are immediate. But it takes time for public infrastructure to degrade from lack of maintenance and replacement. Eventually it does degrade and in some cases becomes unusable. Then the costs of repair/replacement are usually higher than if the resource had have been maintained and replaced according to reasonable engineering schedules. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) publishes a very interesting data series that allows us to examine the ageing of the capital assets (public and private) on an annual basis back to 1925. I thought I would explore that dataset to inform the proposition that neo-liberalism has been associated with degraded public infrastructure and the loss of service (to the non-government sector) that accompanies such degradation. The results of my enquiry are fairly stark.Bill Mitchell – billy blog
I wrote about that sort of policy mypopia last week in this blog – Austerity is the enemy of our grandchildren as public infrastructure degrades....
It is just ridiculous to starve public investment funding
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia