Geithner on TV – “Keynesian economics has failed”

Bruce Krasting's picture

Some refreshing words from the Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner this morning on Meet the Press. He had this to say: (15:20 into this clip) Note: An 8 second clip of Tim's words: Link

We don’t have the ability (because of the overhang in housing and the problems in the financial sector) to artificially engineer a stronger recovery.


Imagine that! Geithner acknowledges what I (and many others) have felt all along. The structural issues in the economy trump the government’s ability to engineer a recovery.

The Fed has taken extraordinary measures on the monetary front. Since
2009 we have had $1.2 trillion of fiscal stimulus measures as well. We
have had TARP and the bailouts of Fannie and Freddie. But the evidence
is clear that it has not worked. Unemployment is today near a record and
the more important measure, U6, is at 16.2% (about where it was a year
ago) Nothing that has been done has moved the needle.

Geithner might have put it differently. He could have really put it on the line. I would have preferred that he had said:

economics has not worked. At best, it has given us a small reprieve
from the restructuring that must happen. Our government can’t fight the
forces of economics any better than we can fight the forces of nature.
Large stimulus measures will not bring the desired results. We have to
suck it up and take some pain. We can’t go on spending money that we
don’t have to fix a problem that can’t be fixed. If we tried, it would
be just be a waste of time and precious financial resources. We can no longer afford to throw good money after bad."

Of course Tim was not as blunt as that. But read his words. It means the same thing. Sorry Keynesians, I know the truth hurts.

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Winston Smith 2009's picture

First of all, a phony economic boom that was based entirely upon debt and which hit a debt wall cannot be restored nor should it be. Second, no government in the world practices true Keynesianism as none of them save in good times to stimulate in bad.

Psquared's picture

Don't worry. The Republicans are going to save us by draining the last bit of wealth from the middle class and handing it over the financiers to cover up their mistakes. When that is all gone they will turn to involuntary servitude. When that has failed they will turn to war. If a billion people are killed or die because of some plague that will lessen the burden on the limited resources of the planet and the wealthy can get back to doing what they do best. Stealing!

What they have not counted on is the fact that there is a God and he is watching. What we are witnessing is part of the "falling away" which must occur first before the return of the Messiah. I would not want to be part of the modern day Sanhedrin when that happens.


steve from virginia's picture

People have short memories.

Keynesian policies worked beginning in 1933 in Germany.

They also worked in UK. They worked shortly after 1933 when most European countries abandoned the gold standard and Germany stiffed the Versailles Treaty and refused to pay any more reparations.

(German war reparations and Western Europe's war debts to the US was the main cause of the 1930 recession, btw. Keep that in mind when you think about Greece and Ireland.)

Keynesian policies worked in the US beginning in 1938 after Munich Accord and US bgan to rearm. Postwar, Keynesian policies worked as the US became the arsenal of democracy and financed the reconstruction of European and Japanese economies; think 'Marshall Plan' The plan was the beginning of US postwar economic boom that had the world first, then a burgeoning US middle class as aggregate demand.

Keynesian policies worked post- Vietnam when the US defaulted and Nixon closed the gold window ending Bretton Woods. Leaving aside the peak oil consequences, cheap credit substituted for hard goods -- Keynesian policy -- just fine starting in 1979 when the US began to deregulate finance in earnest and went on a borrowing spree.

Number one Keynes' policy supporter: Ronald Reagan who doubled government spending and increased US sovereign debt.

Keynesian policy has flooded the private sector with surpluses since 1980 racking up the euquivalent in public sector obligations at the same time.

Problem: the private sector not the public sector. Geithner is an ass, Krasting you should now better.

The private sector is constrained from servicing any more PRIVATE debt. Public debt is self- servicing. The reason the private sector cannot service debt is because high energy prices -- + 800% since 1999 -- renders the private sector unprofitable WITH the public subsidies!

With the public subsidies.

The only solution is ENERGY CONSERVATION rather than fiddling with the money costs or pointing fingers at a dead economist whose POLICY WORKED UNTIL THE COUNTRY'S WASTEFULNESS DID IT IN.

America has a waste-based economy that is now bankrupt. Where is 'Plan B'?

In practical terms US must become a net energy exporter. Do anyone have any idea what this represents? US energy use must fall by 75% or more. Until the US takes steps to reduce energy consumption -- waste -- by 75% or more, the MARKETS will reduce US energy consumption -- waste -- by 75% and keep reducing all the way to zero.

This isn't ME or the ghost of John Maynard Keynes but simple THERMODYNAMICS.

You know .. boil water in a tea kettle and it cools off when you shut off the gas valve? The flow of heat through the water is called ENTROPY. We're all living entropy right now whether we like it or not.

The REAL problem is at the end of your driveway, better start looking at it.


Fiat Money's picture

"The only solution is ENERGY CONSERVATION rather than fiddling with the money costs or pointing fingers at a dead economist whose POLICY WORKED UNTIL THE COUNTRY'S WASTEFULNESS DID IT IN.

America has a waste-based economy that is now bankrupt. Where is 'Plan B'? " 

WELL SAID,  Steve from Virginia!  Or to put it in simpler terms,  "The Neo-Cons who de facto run, rule America, have SABOTAGED our energy policy for past 2 decades, to

#1. boost their own FOSSIL FUEL MONOPOLY "profits"   (that DON'T include the SOCIALIZED costs of MILITARY SPENDING to  'SECURE' those foreign oil imports) and,
#2. to JUSTIFY the above WARS/military (mercenary)  "contracting" contracts (billions upont trillions of dollars $$ for the military/industrial/congressional/bigMedia/bigFinance complex) 

Obama PROMISED millions of us Americans "change" but under his despicable "of, by, and for GolddamnSachs" crew,

he has given us MORE  Cheney/Bush FOSSIL FUEL (and nuclear) DEPENDENCE...

   For example, Team Obama is ON THE SIDE of the OIL COMPANIES in SABOTAGING electric cars - both generically, NOT ENCOURAGING the use of ALREADY EXISTING HYBRIDS like Toyota Prius and Honda Civic hybrid...  but Team Obama is ALLOWING  Chevron to  SIT ON its NiMH  patent,  KILLING the use of these batteries for all-electric cars  = SHEER SABOTAGE !

Rick64's picture

Thanks for pointing out that Chevron patent incumbrance, this was new info for me.

janus's picture

I just caught the foul wiff of acedemia:


I couldn't agree more.  This Keynsian alchemy is da mutha-fuckin shazit!  It's comparable to other 'fixes' I can think of...

Just this morning, I didn't feel fresh and lively -- so I rolled up the ole sleeve, got the juice flowing in the ole veins, and, voila! it worked.  Later, while coming down from the ambrosia, I felt a little shaky; and so I couldn't help but pop two 10 mg valium.  But, meh, this salt lacks flavor, I wanted a little pep in the know how it is with softpatches and whatnot -- and so I set to chopping and lining up two of the fattest rails you've ever seen...ah, the colors, the bright, beautiful chromium of LIGHT. 

Now I've got dem cocaine's one hell of a drug.

tip e. canoe's picture

try poppin a couple 5-HTPs as you're comin down...will help ease the slide.

tip e. canoe's picture

"America has a waste-based economy"

steve, don't you get it? waste was Americo's #1 export to China last year. gotta keep that trade balance from completely tilting outta whack ;~)

luigi's picture

It still is beyond me how you can label this printing mess as "keynesian"...

Mercury's picture

We don’t have the ability (because of the overhang in housing and the problems in the financial sector) to engineer artificially a stronger recovery.

Not while you're also doing everything in your power to prevent failed financial institutions from failing and the residential real estate market from clearling, no.

JohnFrodo's picture

Its not rocket science. Income as a % of GDP is 26% and spending is 35%. This has nothing to do with Kensyian its voodo economics practiced daily.

Implicit simplicit's picture

The Fix is In- Heros or Heroine

The oligarch's stole the buck

the biggies along with gladman suck

derivatives overleverage

shorts bets with impossible coverage

the glass seagull flew away

cracked a wing the very next day

everyone still wants with nothing left

entitlements, lobbyists, greed and theft

The fix is in, jonesen for some QE smack

torture in vein on the torture rack

For simplicity leave it implicitly

clear,reset, reboot systematically

PulauHantu29's picture

At least his hands didn't tremble like Hank Paulson's......but Timmy should have had a tear or two roll down his pouty face....maybe some of the Sheeples would be more sympathetic for this age-old argument:

"No one could have seen this coming"

crzyhun's picture

If timmy, beaker, whatever, is not running the T-usury, then who is? Inertia. Recall the movie Brazil for an image on this with the tubes and papers and people scammpering around.  

Leo Kolivakis's picture

Dear Bruce, Keynesian economics has not failed. If you ever took a course in the methodology of economics or history of economic thought, you'd understand that this isn't Keynesian economics. What has been a monumental failure over the last 30 years is the Chicago school of lunacy "free market" economics. Those charlatans have been exposed for what they really are, total fraudsters.

janus's picture

all human ideology and theory are failures. why should keynes mean more to me than hayak -- each is suited to different tastes and times.  each hoping to explain the preceeding systemic failure as one of flawed theory, only to exacerbate the succeeding systemic failure with yet more moronic theory.

thanks, we've had enough.  the cruel limits of gold/silver are just and function as impervious prophylactics against devine retribution. 

tastes and times change

I think butter is inimitably superior to margarine.  there are, however, witless souls who disagree; why should I waste my time hoping they'll get it...if it's margarine they prefer, let them drown in it.

anony's picture

Horse's doofers.

Stimuli, and TARP, and TALF haven't done any good because the (Ostensible) purposes for them, TO PROVIDE LIQUIDITY, has not been carried out.

Instead, those receiving the trillions have instead been permitted to make money taking no risk at all by simply working the spread, lending it to the government for a quick and easy 2.5%.

You can't conclude that a hammer doesn't work unless you first hit a nail with it.


janus's picture

one final note before I turn in:

I don't know how to go about finding them, but many years ago, when Janus was trying to make sense of macro-economic theory, I stumbled upon a cache of Keynes' personal correspondence.  I won't get into the lurid details, but, suffice it to say, the man was a major proponent of sodomy.  I'm not talking the sort of, 'this sodomy stuff is the pips!...can't get enough of it, really.'  No, more along the lines of obsessive-compulsive wierdness...freakiness.  The sort of thing for which God is known to destroy major metropolises with fire, brimstone and sour displeasure. 

janus's picture

"the politics of failure have failed"

Kotos to Kang in the great presidential debate from Simpson's Halloween Special #7 (I think).

ebworthen's picture


Engineering - financial or otherwise - employed upon the aftermath of an orgy of speculation, excess leverage, near zero capital, greed, lust, bribes, complicity of law enforcment and a majority of the judiciary, and in-toto ethical and moral lapses not seen since the days of Nero, then lain upon the backs of families - doesn't have a bat's ass chance of succeeding.


Atlantis Consigliore's picture

Dem peoples got their problems the have the have nots, but the ones who make me listen pay my 30 second spots.

dos bums and realtor whorers selling no doc homes to to place your bets,

make dem politicians quicker and point finger at those with jets,


but dem elections have class warfare and does checks will print or piss,


ill see you guys next decade and wait it out

in gold back SWISS.


let me hear ya say Socialsm ,  um um ummmm.


Timithy Geitner worst t sec  since,

Bernanke as fed chair,


UM UM UM..........suckerssss.


Elmer Fudd's picture

Be careful, TG, you know waaaay too much to be talking, or they may decide you need to get "suicided."

curmudgery's picture

Hey here's an idea... Let's make this Stop Blaming Keynes Week here at ZH!  Keynes' deficit spending recommendation assumed a CREDITOR nation... not a deadbeat debt zombie.  He never said you can start as a big debtor and deficit spend to prosperity.   We don't need a scapegoat.  Our leadership is just about 100% goat as it is.  We don't need to roil JMH in his grave.... but if we have, I hope he is laughing at the total lameness going on above ground.

jack stephan's picture

Homer: Greetings, friend. Do you wish to look as happy as me? Well, you've got the power inside you right now. Use it, and send one dollar to Happy Dude, 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield. Don't delay. Eternal happiness is only a dollar away


mt paul's picture

might be time 

to dig Keynes up 


drink out of his scull..

Bartanist's picture

I am sure it is hard for him to come to the realization that he and all of his ilk are simply failed LOOTERS, that contribute nothing and think they are owed everything.

Fiat Money's picture

Bruce - pardon my English, but YOU'RE BEING AN IDIOT !!

  Timmy Geithner is NOT,  repeat, NOT, NOT, NOT a "Keynsian liberal" -  he is a radical right-wing Goldman-Sachs debt enslavement  appartchik, a CAREER TOADY of first (right out of grad school) Henry Kissinger (associates), and then under kissinger's de facto successor as US/global extortion meister,  Harvard Law, Golddamn-Sachs co-CHAIRMAN, and  Clinton's 2nd TREASURY SECRETARY  bob rubin.  Rubin is a GS & Citi  LOAN SHARKING  DEBT ENSLAVEMENT fraudster & swindler.   His career protege Geithner (and Summers, & Emanuel) are GOLDDAMN-SACHS credit EXTORTIONISTS - NOT  Keynsian "liberal" economists.

    In video 2 of 3,  David DeGraw understands:  he calls Geithner not merely and "ECONOMIC HIT MAN,"  but an ECONOMIC DEATH SQUAD leader."

   Emanuel, Rubin, Summers,  Lieberman are all MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE radical right-wing SABOTEURS of traditional "liberal" high wages, financial oversight, illegal usury New Deal, Great Society economics - they are INTENTIONALLY  BLAMING "keynsian" economics, for their Rothschilds-esque FRAUD, deceit, predatory lending, loan-sharking MONEY/credit supply expansion > money supply/credit  CONTRACTION  policies that INTENTIONALLY   DESTROY a nation's economy & create  DEPRESSION widespread poverty -  see "U.S. Farm Depression PRECEEDS  the 1929 stock market crash and Great Depression." 

 or see Michael Hudson on the many means by which bankers CREATE "debt" OUT OF THIN AIR, and then BRIBE CONGRESS, to STICK that debt on to both American consumers (30% credit card rates  PLUS fees!)   AND  "bailouts" extorted taxpayers -  we Americans are being FORCED to PAY INTEREST on  made-out-of-thin-air 'money' created to BAIL OUT THE BANKS - and you call it "Keynsian economics"!

  TIM GEITHNER IS NOT EVEN A DEMOCRAT - he, like Social Security hating Bernake, are registered right-wing  Rethuglicans!  Obama promised us "Change" but gave us BUSHONOMICS - tax cuts for rich in time of war,  PLUS  "Enron" NO OVERSIGHT financial system - ON STEROIDS, of  UNLIMITED "QE" MONEY PRINTING (FOR BANKERS ONLY)  PLUS   TRILLIONS of  taxpayer obligated (extorted  "BAILOUTS" - again, 'money' spent on PAPER PUSHING (fraud pushing) bankers,  NOT, NOT, NOT  CREATING  jobs & paychecks! 

oldman's picture


It's OK-----the taxes will trickle down to us. We'll get something out of the deal-----we won't have to be middle class any more---any of us!

Escapeclaws's picture

+1 Parasite economics.

Where will it end? I wish we had some historical discussions on this site, but historian types don't seem to be attracted to ZH. We could also use more international geopolitical perspective. We are too focused on money on this site. Yes, it is a money site, but the issues go way beyond that, IMHO, and you can't really get the money part right if you don't have a wider perspective. When you read history you see that the level of corruption we have in this society, exemplified by Geithner, is normal. What happens is that everything degenerates into conspiracy talk, which may even be true, but doesn't get to the underlying reasons for things. Somebody warned yesterday that what's really driving all this is oil and we concentrate too narrowly on finance. At least that is a different perspective from strict finance.

Bruce is also great at focusing on finance, though I have come to believe that he hates social security with a passion and wants to be rid of it even though he claims he's just being realistic. (Two things arouse my suspicion immediately: people who are "sincere" and people who claim they are just being "realistic".)

Occasionally we get some Marxist discussion, but that tends to elicit nothing but scatological references. Yet Marxism does at least provide a wider context even if you think it is wrong, whatever that means. We need more tolerance for widely diverging points of view--there shouldn't be a dominant "ZH mode of thinking", such as libertarianism, which I believe has all the hallmarks of a fad, because things are so grave at this point that we cannot afford not to be open to different perspectives. I should mention that Marx was quite aware of the historical role of "finance capitalism" which he regarded as the last stage of captitallism. Mayny people think Marx applies more than ever in today's world and not the world of the late 19th century.

Cursing is the last refuge of the impotent.

Bruce Krasting's picture

I'm working on something. I spend a lot of time at it. An idea that might make a difference to both social security and medicare.

Why do I do that? Money in my pocket? Not a chance. I'm doing it because I'm looking for a better way. Give me a month. I will write about it.

I don't want to destroy anything. I'd like to contribute to a fix that actually worked.

I think SS and medicare have the potential to ruin the country. It won't take as long as people think. I don't hate these programs as you suggest. I'm afraid of them. You'd be nuts not be afraid of them.

Fiat Money's picture

Bruce, please explain how you believe that  'bailing out banks'  instead of creating real jobs -  (e.g. desperately needed infrastructure repairs)much less allowing finance & banking fraud to make Enron Ken Lay look like a Sunday morning amateur -  has anything to do with "keynsian economics"

Escapeclaws's picture

Bruce, perhaps I am unjust and perhaps I have been wrong in imagining you are possibly also an FDR hater, but I can't understand why these programs must be self-financing at this point when the congress has basically just appropriated the funds into the general budget and frittered them away. The beneficiaries have done nothing but contribute over their working lives. I view the "fund", if that is even an applicable designation, as something that our elites lust after--one of the few pockets of wealth left for the middle class that theoretically have not yet been asset-stripped, although I think one could make comparisons with Ft Knox if DSK "avait raison". That and the fact that I am on the cusp of getting my own pittance from them, which I will unfortunately be highly dependent on, from the looks of things, makes me extremely sensitive on this topic. I hope your fix does not require recent or about to be retirees to take a hit.

I would warn younger people not to throw in the towel on this as well, but to zealously protect these programs. You perhaps think that you can save for your own retirement, but life has a funny way of throwing curve balls. 90% of you will likely be dependent on this inefficient form of savings in spite of the fulminations of the far right.  Don't be so cocksure and don't cut off your nose to spite your face. Think about the renaissance idea of the "wheel of fortune" --and that has nothing to do with Vanna White (more like "Bust a deal, get the wheel"--a popular game show in Australia).

Thisson's picture

As a young person, I get your point.  But people need to know the true costs of things, and decide whether they will be "ants" or "grasshoppers" instead of relying on central planning big brother to provide for them.

Additionally, the "wheel of fortune" problem is where friends, family and charity play a role. 

Bruce Krasting's picture

You said two things. 1) you're on the cusp of getting SS and 2) you desperately need it.

I don't there is enough money. I think current and new beneficiaries will have to take a hit at some point. Rather than an across the board cut I wanted it to be skewed. I think that you (desperate) should get what you are expecting. And me (not desperate) should not.

So Claws, I'm on your side. Actually I'm on everyone's side; except my own.


DOT's picture

Well put, Bruce. I also fear the potential damage of un-ending entitlement expansion.

I have encountered more than a few (non-means tested) retirees that only use SS for the payments on the newest Caddy or some other toy.


oldman's picture


In these times, I prefer being 'nuts' to being 'normal'.

Anyway, I can't be afraid of SS because it is all an oldman has. I get a little nervous reading that you 'hate' SS: please tell me that you do not 'hate'it, but think that there is a better way of providing a form of sustenance for those of us who mandatorily paid into SS. 

From our point of view, it is our money that was withheld in lieu of proper compensation against poverty in our old age.

Besides, hatred is an ugly face to deal with

Thanks for all of your work----and keep it coming.

Thisson's picture


The benefits you will take from SS vastly outnumber your contribution.  Remember, nobody expected your generation to live this long.  So look at it as a glass half-full: longevity is a good problem to have.   

mt paul's picture

hey timmie

stand on your head

lower the debt floor...

zen0's picture

search:  rats + sinking ship

f16hoser's picture

Did Geithner say "Artificial" recovery? So the whole thing was/is a sham. Obama isn't wearing any cloths! Look mom, the Emperor is naked! Too funny!

oldman's picture

More of: "read the script" in the interview---that's your job.

And I'll be damned if I do not almost----fall for it everytime. Who is the stupid one here, Timmy, Ben, Willie Clinton, "It is really hard work" Bush, Hillary C. "Aljazeera is the best---", our poor beleagured presentpresident------------------ad infinitum or, this oldman?

As much as I hate to admit it, it is this oldman------I damn near believe everything anyone says, reads, or writes; I should be locked up for stupidity.

Where will it all end?


Do not a thing, dudes 

Boilermaker's picture

We don’t have the ability (because of the overhang in housing and the problems in the financial sector) to engineer artificially a stronger recovery.


They sure as hell had the ability to jack the shit out of equities though, right?  The 'take' from this is that they didn't have the 'ability' to help out the masses so they just greased the hell out of the palms of the rich. You know, when we rebuild from the ground maybe our new lords will toss us some crumbs.  What a disgusting affair this is.

janus's picture

When the rebuilding starts, we will be the NEW LORDS.  Which is to say, we ARE the New Lords.

But, for the present, I'm just football is but a few weeks away; and we of the SouthEastern Conference will get to, once again, demonstrate our prowess, our power, our glory, forever and ever, amen.

ramma jamma/

yella hammer/

give em' HELL/


CrazyCooter's picture

Bruce, I love your content, I love your opinion, but I need to bitch. Please take me at face value. I am not being negative, I want to put something "on the table".

When you bust the MSM (as you did - kudos) they will pull the content link. I have tried for most of the last hour to coax the content from the inter-webs ... its just not there for me; I do not get to see what you saw.

My old man is a Vietnam vet who (still) refuses to get a computer (and gives me advice on dating cougars) ... I send him DVDs of Internet crap that I put together using ANT downloader ... while ANT doesn't work for a few sites (comedy central) ... the vast majority can be pulled down to my local hard drive ... massaged into some format that makes my DVD burner happy ... and my old man can watch Internet TV and keep pace with the world he is probably stuck with for another ten (twenty if he is lucky) years but refuses to participate in directly (working on that).

Before you post the next one of these, please ANT or somehow save the video so that when the producer decides their content sucks they can't put me in this god awful situation of wanting to watch Timmy belly dance an (imaginary) silver dime up his forehead. That is to say, you can YouTube the saved content first, preferably with your graffiti comment on the splash page of the video, and have a back up of the reason for your opinion.

I don't have much left in life, but I can wince, imagine, and watch the founders coin (gold/siler) flip up his forehead ... only Mr Bonzia could animate futher ... I hope I don't sound like a loon ...



P.S. Are those fore head lying muscles trained enough to roll a Silver Eagle? <boggles>

Bruce Krasting's picture

You telling me this does not work??

Here is a link

Alternatively cut and past this into your browser. This a youtube link. Nothing fancy.


CrazyCooter's picture

My apologies for not being clear ... the CBS link doesn't work for me. I really wanted to watch the whole interview and I can't. I did catch the sound bite youtube.