Tax Cuts, Stimulus Spending, Low Interest Rates Do Little to Create Jobs

“In carrying out its QE2 purchases, the Fed had to follow standard operating procedure for “open market operations”: it took secret bids from the 20 “primary dealers”authorized to sell securities to the Fed and accepted the best offers. The problem was that 12 of these dealers — or over half — are U.S.-based branches of foreign banks (including BNP Paribas, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, UBS and others), and they evidently won the bids.

…According to Scott Fullwiler, Associate Professor of Economics at Wartburg College, the money multiplier model is not just broken but obsolete.”

Ellen Brown, Why QE2 Failed: The Money All Went Overseas,  Huffington Post, July 11, 2011,

In the past 60 years, job growth has actually been greater in years when the top income tax rate was much higher than it is now. … in years when the top marginal rate was more than 90 percent, the average annual growth in total payroll employment was 2 percent. In years when the top marginal rate was 35 percent or less—which it is now—employment grew by an average of just 0.4 percent. … if you ranked each year since 1950 by overall job growth, the top five years would all boast marginal tax rates at 70 percent or higher. The top 10 years would share marginal tax rates at 50 percent or higher.

Michael Linden, Rich People’s Taxes Have Little to Do with Job Creation, Center for American Progress, June 27, 2011,

“Of particular note, we find that fiscal policy is less effective in lifting recovery growth in more open economies. In open economies, fiscal stimulus may spill over to higher growth in partner countries by increasing demand for imported foreign goods and services. This finding suggests the need for more coordination in fiscal stimulus across countries, so that the spillover to other countries is offset by equivalent increases in foreign demand for domestic goods and services.”

Cerra, Valerie, Ugo Panizza, and Sweta C. Saxena, International Evidence on Recovery from Recessions, Working Paper, International Monetary Fund, 2009.


In the current U.S. open economy environment (put into place over decades of pro-globalization policy shifts) neither larger tax cuts for consumers nor larger tax cuts for corporations nor lower taxes for the wealthiest Americans nor Federal Reserve actions to lower borrowing costs for banking institutions have had the positive U.S. job growth effects we desire.  Millions of working people are unemployed and most U.S. families are experiencing either stagnant income levels or falling incomes.

  • Consumers do buy more with their tax cuts, but a large part of the job creation effect goes to other parts of the world because so much of what we consume is imported
  • Banks do increase their lending, but a large part of the lending is used to finance projects outside the U.S.
  • The corporations do use their tax breaks to increase investments in new plants and facilities, but an increasingly large part of those investments go into emerging market areas of the world
  • Wealthier Americans do use tax savings to increase stock holdings, and thus contribute to the pool of investment funds, but more and more the wealthy purchase stocks in corporations that are expanding operations in emerging markets because that is where the highest returns are being obtained.

U.S. job creation and income distribution policies are out of date.  They were designed for the affluent manufacturing nations operating in the much less economically integrated world of the mid twentieth century.  Major changes in the U.S. policy approach to creating jobs and distributing income will be required to put things right for U.S. families.