Weekend Reading: Josh Barro: Healthcare: Republicans Lied. They Deserve Punishment

What About Trade Deficits, Anyway?: DeLong FAQ

San Francisco from Abovee Berkeley

Q: Libertarian economic theorists tend to believe that trade deficits are of minimal importance. Do these deficits really have a great impact on America's economy?

A: If the president and congress are not doing their job through fiscal policy--regulating government spending and taxing--and the Federal Reserve is not doing its job through monetary policy--regulating the supply and price of liquid purchasing power--in order to maintain full employment, then, yes, a trade deficit can make matters much worse.

Given that President Obama was much too cautious in 2009-10 when he had congressional majorities, that congressional majorities over 2011-2016 were focused mostly not on keeping America great but on making Obama look like a failure, that Fed Chair Bernanke was much too cautious over 2008-2014, and that Fed Chair Yellen has been somewhat too cautious since, yes, the trade deficits have made our problems significantly worse.

But before 2009 and going forward into the future in which the unemployment rate is--we hope--6% or below, the trade deficit was not and will not be among the five biggest errors of economic management the U.S. government was and will be making.