Home > posts > Economists’ Study: Cash for Clunkers a Failure, Not an “Overwhelming Success”
September 20th, 2010 12:33 pm
Economists’ Study: Cash for Clunkers a Failure, Not an “Overwhelming Success”
Posted by Print

Over and over again, President Obama and other defenders of trickle-up stimulus labeled 2009’s “Cash for Clunkers” a positive example of federal spending and market manipulation.  Obama himself eagerly called it an “overwhelming success,” and Nancy Pelosi curiously professed that it “has been successful beyond our wildest dreams.”

Economists’ verdict?  Not so much.

Writing for the National Bureau of Economic Research, economists Amir Sufi from the University of Chicago and Atif Mian of the University of California Berkeley report that Cash for Clunkers had no substantive net positive effect:

A key rationale for fiscal stimulus is to boost consumption when aggregate demand is perceived to be inefficiently low. We examine the ability of the government to increase consumption by evaluating the impact of the 2009 “Cash for Clunkers” program on short and medium run auto purchases. Our empirical strategy exploits variation across U.S. cities in ex-ante exposure to the program as measured by the number of “clunkers” in the city as of the summer of 2008. We find that the program induced the purchase of an additional 360,000 cars in July and August of 2009. However, almost all of the additional purchases under the program were pulled forward from the very near future; the effect of the program on auto purchases is almost completely reversed by as early as March 2010 – only seven months after the program ended. The effect of the program on auto purchases was significantly more short-lived than previously suggested. We also find no evidence of an effect on employment, house prices, or household default rates in cities with higher exposure to the program.”

This is Obamanomics and “stimulus” policy in a nutshell:  Billions in spending, but no positive effect.  Future generations forced to pay for it will not be retrospectively amused.

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