I see that Paul Krugman and Larry Summers are debating Ben Bernanke on the relative importance of weak domestic demand and our trade deficit in explaining shortfalls in demand. I have a busy morning, but let me throw in a quick tidbit and pronounce our former Fed chair the winner.
Suppose that our trade deficit was 1.0 percent of GDP (@$180 billion) instead of 3.0 percent of GDP (@$540 billion). Does anyone doubt that this difference of two percentage points of GDP would make a massive difference in employment and output in the United States? Where I come from it would have the same impact as a $360 billion (@ $4 trillion over a decade) government infrastructure program. That would go far towards getting us to full employment.