Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Debilitating Economic Consequences of Bigger Government

While speaking in Canada earlier this week, I authored a column in the Financial Post. I hope the entire piece is worth reading, but here are a few of the highlights:

The Obama Administration claimed that spending more money would keep the unemployment rate below 8% in the United States, yet it climbed to 10%. The United Kingdom and Canada also suffered continued stagnation after adopting so-called stimulus packages. Ironically, statist nations such as France and Germany that resisted the siren song of Keynesianism better weathered the global economic storm. ...While many factors influence economic performance, the negative impact of government spending is one reason why small-government jurisdictions such as Hong Kong (where the burden of the public sector is below 20% of GDP) have higher growth rates than nations that have medium-sized government, such as Canada and the United States. The same principle explains in part why big-government countries such as France often suffer from economic stagnation. ...Most studies using current economic data show that economic performance is maximized when the public sector is less than 20% of GDP. And if historical data is used, the evidence suggests that government should be even smaller. Ironically, John Maynard Keynes might not be a Keynesian if he was alive today. He certainly would not be a proponent of big government. In correspondence with another British economist, he agreed with the premise of "25% [of GDP] as the maximum tolerable proportion of taxation."

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