woman house poverty Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A Better Bailout Was Possible

Back in 2008, a critical opportunity was missed when the burden of post-crisis adjustment was tilted heavily in favor of creditors relative to debtors. The result was not only prolonged stagnation, but also the Republican Party's embrace of demagogic populism and the election of Donald Trump.

NEW YORK – The recent exchange between Joe Stiglitz and Larry Summers about “secular stagnation” and its relation to the tepid economic recovery after the 2008-2009 financial crisis is an important one. History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes, Mark Twain reportedly once said. But, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, in light of our recent economic history, history doesn’t rhyme, it swears.

Stiglitz and Summers appear to agree that policy was inadequate to address the structural challenges that the crisis revealed and intensified. Their debate addresses the size of the fiscal stimulus, the role of financial regulation, and the importance of income distribution. But additional issues need to be explored in depth.

We believe a critical opportunity was missed when the balance of the burden of adjustment was tilted heavily in favor of creditors relative to debtors in the response to the crisis and that this contributed to the prolonged stagnation that followed the crisis. The long-term social and political ramifications of this missed opportunity have been profound.

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