Monday, August 30, 2010

Gibbs: Housing Tax Credit not high on list of options

by Bill McBride on 8/30/2010 08:33:00 PM

From the Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs

Q: A lot of folks have been talking about the first-time homebuyers tax credit sort of propping up the housing market. Is that one of these new measures that he might be considering?

MR. GIBBS: Look, obviously, there was -- that was something that was done originally. I don't -- while I have not see, obviously, a final list, that is -- I think bringing that back is not on -- is not as high on the list as many other things are.
And a "hoocoodanode" moment too:
Q: In retrospect, was the stimulus too small?

MR. GIBBS: Look, we always -- I think it makes sense to step back just for a second. If you look at -- and I don't think anybody had -- and I think we’d be the first to admit that nobody had, in January of 2009, a sufficient grasp at the sheer depth of what we were facing. I think that's, quite frankly, true for virtually every economist that made predictions.
How about Christina Romer (
the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers)? From Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker:
At the December [2008] meeting, it was Romer’s job to explain just how bad the economy was likely to get. “David Axelrod said we have to have a ‘holy-shit moment,’ ” she began. “Well, Mr. President, this is your ‘holy-shit moment.’ It’s worse than we thought.” She gave a short tutorial about what happens to an economy during a depression, what happened during previous severe recessions, and what could happen if the Administration didn’t act. She showed PowerPoint slides emphasizing that the situation would require a bold government response.
The most important question facing Obama that day was how large the stimulus should be. Since the election, as the economy continued to worsen, the consensus among economists kept rising. ... Romer had run simulations of the effects of stimulus packages of varying sizes: six hundred billion dollars, eight hundred billion dollars, and $1.2 trillion. The best estimate for the output gap was some two trillion dollars over 2009 and 2010. Because of the multiplier effect, filling that gap didn’t require two trillion dollars of government spending, but Romer’s analysis, deeply informed by her work on the Depression, suggested that the package should probably be more than $1.2 trillion.
So Romer thought the right size was probably about double what was actually enacted (excluding the Alternative Minimum Tax relief).