BERKELEY – Unemployment is currently rising like a rocket, because businesses that normally would be expanding and hiring are not, and those businesses that would normally be contracting and shedding workers are doing so very rapidly. Businesses that ought to be expanding and hiring cannot, because the depressed general level of financial asset prices prevents them from borrowing money or selling bonds on profitable terms.
In response, central banks should purchase government bonds for cash in as large a quantity as needed to push their prices up as high as possible. Expensive government bonds will shift demand to mortgage or corporate bonds, pushing up their prices.
Even after central banks have pushed government bond prices as high as they can go, they should keep buying government bonds for cash, in the hope that people whose pockets are full of cash will spend more of it, and that this will directly pull people out of joblessness and into employment.
In addition, governments need to run extra-large deficits. Spending – whether by the United States government during World War II, following the Reagan tax cuts of 1981, by Silicon Valley during the late 1990’s, or by home buyers in America’s south and on its coasts in the 2000’s – boosts employment and reduces unemployment. And government spending is as good as anybody else’s.