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"If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion" -- George Bernard Shaw
Disagreements among the cadre of economists critical of the Obama administration's economic strategies have made it difficult to assess the viability of the recent bank-bailout proposals announced by the President and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
When, for example, Treasury Secretary Geithner on March 23 announced a new "Public-Private Investment Program" -- the latest variation of the Obama administration's bailout plan -- the normally reliable gang of critics split into two camps.
One faction, exemplified by Nobel Laureates Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, remained firmly pessimistic, arguing that the new policy would at best slow a steady march toward the cliff's edge.
"The Geithner plan is very badly flawed," Stiglitz told Reuters. "Quite frankly, this amounts to robbery of the American people."
Other concerned economists, including Nouriel "Dr. Doom" Roubini (who has often proved disconcertingly right) and Brad DeLong, Berkeley professor and former deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury under Clinton, argue that the proposal might do some real good, although their commentary is packed with caveats.
We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens...
We demand the nationalisation of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).
We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries.
We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare...
The State is to care for the elevating national health...