Ryan Cooper Says Fix the Jobs

This is part of the series highlighting supporters of pro-jobs policies. An updated list of supporters can be found here.

Ryan Cooper is a national correspondent for The Week covering politics and business also appearing in Washington Monthly, The New Republic and The Washington Post. He has written extensively on the unemployment problem and has advocated for more aggressive monetary and fiscal policy.

In his article “Why the government should help the unemployed even if it might not work” he argues that:

“We’ve suffered a collapse of aggregate demand, and institutional arrangements and political gridlock prevent us from fully addressing the problem through monetary or fiscal stimulus. This dynamic is also quite similar to that of the Great Depression — it took World War II to break through the political gridlock and get enough deficit spending to restore full employment.”

and that:

“If the stagnationists are right, then government attempts to restore employment with monetary or fiscal stimulus will result in little more than inflation. But they might be wrong, and the relative downside risks to their positions aren’t even close to comparable. A bit of moderate inflation is no big deal — it came in at around 4 percent during most of Reagan’s term, and the Fed has the tools to easily rein inflation back in if it rises above the central bank’s target rate of 2 percent. In fact, a little inflation could even help matters, by eroding household debt burdens and reducing real interest rates.”

In another article he argues that:

“The country is still in an economic slump, and will probably remain so for several more years. There is idle economic capacity (most obviously in the form of unemployed workers), so new deficit spending will not result in excess inflation or increased interest rates in the short term. On the contrary, it will likely pay for itself even on narrow fiscal terms, by returning the economy to its potential more quickly, and thereby increasing tax revenue.”

Piling on he believes a more aggressive monetary and fiscal policy can recover some of the lost potential:

“We currently have mass unemployment, a combination of stupendous misery and waste that has led to a sharp spike in the suicide rate. If we got some real stimulus, there’s a chance of making up some of the roughly 7.3 percent of GDP — $1.2 trillion and 10 million jobs — in lost output from the Great Recession. More stimulus could cause some moderate inflation, but probably at a minor cost. Indeed, it might actually help matters by lowering real interest rates and eroding debt burdens. And as Dean Baker and Jared Bernstein point out in their new book, the U.S. got unemployment down to 4 percent for the whole of 2000 with flat inflation.”

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