Monday, January 15, 2007

The Cost of War Update

By the time you finish reading this article the United States will have spent $1 million dollars in its war on Iraq.

Besides the human costs which the administration has ignored for three years and is only now being confronted with by a Democratic congress and Senate, the other question is what is the cost to the U.S. economy.

As GB Shaw once said; "
Self-sacrifice enables us to sacrifice other people without blushing."

For sure it has increased the U.S. debt and its reliance on China to bouy the dollar, ironic that, Red China keeps the US in the Black.

Well leading economists can't figure out if the war spending is a good thing or a bad thing.

But that should be no surprise since as GB Shaw also said," if you laid all the economists in the world end to end you would still not come to a conclusion."

War is of course good for business, and that is the health of the State, as Randolph Bourne said. But just as Bush's call for Iraqization of the war harkens us back to the seventies and Vietnamization, so does the economic costs of the war.

And this article is a repeat of one that appeared earlier last year. So since April of 2006 the same folks still can't figure out what the heck the economic impact of the war is. Now that should leave us all feeling confident in the economic policy wonks in the U.S.

Along these lines, economists see faint echoes from the Vietnam era, when the Fed tried to slow the economy fueled by the war against Hanoi and by President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs.

This overheating was a factor in the sharp run-up in inflation in the 1970s.

"The longer this goes on ... the more closely it resembles the inflationary push that we saw in the latter part of the 1960s," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial.

Economists say it's very difficult to get at the war's economic fallout. The most complicating factor is that the military is spending much of the money overseas, which doesn't benefit the U.S. economy, said Bob Parker, a former chief statistician for the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

He said he has no doubt that the war is simulative on the home front, but measuring it remains elusive.

Smith said the war impact is "highly concentrated in a few industries and few locations," especially around major military-staging areas like Fayetteville, N.C., Jacksonville Fla., and Norfolk Va.

Companies like Halliburton Co. and Bechtel Group Inc., the privately held construction firm, have also benefited, Smith said.

Some economists who oppose the war believe it's hurting the economy in insidious ways.
The government's growing issuance of debt underlying increased military spending ordinarily might have led to higher interest rates, but Chinese purchases of U.S. dollars has helped to keep rates low.

"The problem of the war was it was so easy to finance, if that is a problem," said Robert Brusca, chief economist at FAO Economics.

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