Monday, September 26, 2011

Cochrane in National Affairs

John Cochrane writes about monetary policy, debt, and inflation in the fall issue of National Affairs. He appears to pinpoint future entitlement spending associated with the retirement of the Baby Boom as the primary fiscal issue that may trigger a debt crisis. I think he and many others are absolutely right to emphasize the importance of this issue, but it's by no means new knowledge, nor is the problem expected to become appreciably worse than it was years ago. Drawing sharp distinctions between Keynesians, monetarists, and so on may be useful in understanding monetary policy and fiscal stimulus proposals, but it doesn't seem relevant to the debate over long-term fiscal policy, where I think there is far less fundamental disagreement about causes and consequences.  The disagreements are over which benefits to choose at what costs.