Politicians and bureaucrats lack the knowledge to know which pieces fit with which pieces as they cannot know the nature of the idled resources and what consumers want. They are unable to know what is needed to create a sustainable recovery. One of the most fundamental insights of Hayek and the Austrians was that prices, profits, and losses serve as knowledge surrogates to coordinate the decentralised decisions of producers and consumers, themselves often based on knowledge that they could not communicate any other way.
Politicians who are structurally unable to know how best to allocate stimulus resources will inevitably distribute them to those persons and groups who will give them the most electoral support. The Austrian caution about the limits of politicians’ knowledge suggests that no matter what is drawn up on the blackboard, the politicisation of stimulus spending is not an accident and cannot be avoided. Stimulus spending that goes to groups that will provide the most votes will ensure that the right combinations of capital and labour will not be formed.On this blog I often outline my views of the macro-economy based on the Post-Keynesian tradition (including MMT, MR, circuitists, horizontalists, etc) because I believe they offer the most accurate version of monetary operations and a stock-flow consistent approach. Where I generally depart from these economic sects relates to their specific policy prescriptions. On these matters, I more frequently side with Austrians for the reasons highlighted by Horwitz above.
To explain my position in a bit more detail, I agree that government deficits can help sustain growth and employment while the private sector attempts to increase its savings. This view, however, does not imply that government spending should increase or that it will be productive. Aside from the difficulty of knowing what to produce, government spending and deficits are often prone to corporate favoritism that serves to enlarge the income inequality gap. From my perspective, these concerns too often go unaddressed in proposals for larger deficits and increased public spending. The Post-Keynesians may hold the upper hand regarding causal relationships among macroeconomic factors but they could learn a thing or two about the limits of knowledge.