Ever Little Bit of Growth Counts

A blog about business and economics.
Aug. 15 2012 10:15 PM

What's Kenneth Rogoff's Problem With Small Increases in Economic Growth?

The headline here is about economists who previously endorsed the Cameron/Clegg/Osborne austerity agenda in Britain changing their minds, but this statement from Kenneth Rogoff strikes me as actually quite stingy and odd:

I have always favoured investment in high-return infrastructure projects that significantly raise long-term growth.

Many economists seem to be so fearful and fussy about endorsing public spending that they find themselves retreating into odd rhetorical corners. Suppose I brought to the table a smorgasbord of meh-return infrastructure projects, each of which is likely to provide a small increase in long-term growth. Wouldn't that be awesome? Is the United Kingdom in such amazing shape that it can sneer at modest increases in long-term growth and hold out for only things that "significantly" improve the outlook? Is America? Is anywhere?

In ordinary times, you don't necessarily want to fill the tree of useful infrastructure projects because you might be crowding out even more useful private-sector investments. But when borrowing money is cheap and resources are idle, why not settle for good enough?

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

An Iranian Woman Was Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist. Can Activists Save Her?

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.


How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The U.S. Has a New Problem in Syria: The Moderate Rebels Feel Like We’ve Betrayed Them

We Need to Talk: A Terrible Name for a Good Sports Show by and About Women

Trending News Channel
Oct. 1 2014 1:25 PM Japanese Cheerleader Robots Balance and Roll Around on Balls
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM An Architectural Crusade Against the Tyranny of Straight Lines
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Oct. 1 2014 1:53 PM Slate Superfest East How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 3:02 PM The Best Show of the Summer Is Getting a Second Season
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 3:01 PM Netizen Report: Hong Kong Protests Trigger Surveillance and Social Media Censorship
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 2:36 PM Climate Science Is Settled Enough The Wall Street Journal’s fresh face of climate inaction.
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.