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The Clinton Administration

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* THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATON’S OWN VIEW Whatever we might think of the reasoning Greenspan used in convincing Clinton that deficit reduction was an essential policy goal, it still remains a fact that deficits were reduced and (briefly) turned into surpluses over the eight years of the Clinton Presidency. In January of 2001, the Council of Economic Advisers made the following argument:
The Omnibus Budget and Reconciliation Act of 1993 was the right policy package at the right time … long-term interest rates remained stubbornly high. … Bond yields were being predictably affected by the forces of supply and demand: the Federal Government was set to run a deficit of almost $300 billion … With an oversupply of government bonds and the prospect of even more to come, bond and stock prices were depressed, and yields were correspondingly high…

In 1992, the new Administration was elected on a promise to turn the deficits around. After a tough political battle in 1993, the Administration was able to deliver on that promise … The markets responded quickly to this serious effort to address the deficit by lowering expectations of future inflation, and long-term interest rates accordingly fell….

As economic growth and further restraints on spending … turned the huge deficits into surpluses, a new fiscal environment emerged. The 10-year Treasury rate fell below 6 percent in 1998 and 1999… that rate stood at only 5.7 percent in November 2000. …

Ultimately, the combination of falling prices for investment goods and reduced interest costs stimulated dramatic growth in investment… investment grew 13 percent per year between the first quarter of 1993 and the third quarter of 2000.

The result has been a virtuous cycle, in which the right policies in 1993 kicked off a chain reaction of smaller deficits, lower costs of capital, higher investment, increased technology in…...

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