Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Roberts on Obama

Here is Russ Roberts' response to the question "can Obama lead the US out of recession?"
I love the image of President Obama leading the country out of recession. America is lost. Adrift. Off the path. But the Great Leader with his torch (or lantern or GPS system, depending on one's taste for nostalgia versus gritty realism) will lead us home, into the light, into the future, towards prosperity.

It makes for a good future hagiography. For human beings in the real world - it's a fantasy. Barack Obama has no idea of how to get the economy out of the mess we're in. That doesn't mean we're not going to get out. Or that he might help. It's just that the phrase "lead us out of the recession" implies a plan and design that isn't plausible in the current economic environment.

No man or woman runs the economy. No man or woman or team of people can possibly plan the evolution of the economy in the coming months. America will come out of the recession but the time and pace are unknown. Obama can help. But he can just as easily slow down any recovery. Some part of the current mess we're in is the result of erratic government policy that has added to the uncertainty facing consumer, investors, and entrepreneurs.