Working Paper No. 488 | January 2007

Demand Constraints and Big Government

In a series of articles and books, Harold Vatter and John Walker attempted to make the case that the American economy suffers from chronically insufficient demand that leads to growth below capacity. Of particular interest are a 1989 Journal of Post Keynesian Economics article that extends Domar's work on the supply side effects of investment spending and a 1997 book that provides a comprehensive analysis of the evolution of the US "mixed" economy. Their analysis of secular growth complements the well-known writings of Hyman Minsky, who also emphasized the role of the "big government" and the "big bank" in stabilizing an unstable economy over the cycle. This article will summarize, provide support for, and extend the Vatter and Walker approach, concluding with an examination of some of the dangers facing the US economy today. As appropriate, the ideas of Minsky will be used to supplement the argument.

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