The Wall Street Journal

Economists Want Policy Makers to Back Off Now
The Wall Street Journal

Economists are getting more pessimistic about the strength of the U.S. recovery, but they don’t think policy makers should do anything more to support it, according to the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey.

The 53 surveyed economists, not all of whom answered every question, offered a bleak picture of tepid growth and high unemployment. On average, they still don’t see the unemployment rate dropping below 9% through at least June 2011. They expect the economy to add just 136,000 jobs a month over the next 12 months, down from a forecast of 157,000 in the July survey. At that rate, job creation will barely keep up with new entrants to the labor force. When asked about the biggest risk facing the economy, « too few jobs, too little wage income and too little consumer spending » was the most popular choice.

Despite the continued challenging conditions, 30 out of 48 economists who answered the question said the economy didn’t need any more fiscal or monetary stimulus. Six economists said more fiscal stimulus was necessary, while five want more monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve and seven said that the economy could use both.

The economists, though, generally didn’t support the idea of ending Bush-era tax cuts, which will expire at the end of this year unless Congress acts. Just three respondents said that the tax cuts on individual income should be allowed to expire for everyone. Thirty-two economists said they should all be extended.