Jonathan Cloud March 30th, 2010
Things are looking bleak in many parts of the world. Even some of the wealthiest parts are experiencing the consequences of the severity and persistence of the downturn. The chances of a further significant decline, both in the market and in the real economy, are now perhaps 50-50. According to some estimates, up to one-fourth of all commercial properties are in trouble; and 1 in 5 homes remains in danger of foreclosure. The effects of the stimulus program, weak at best, are now being offset by sharp declines in state and local government spending. The need for new economic policies is obvious, and yet such policies are not forthcoming.
In New Jersey, Governor Christie has taken an axe to the state budget, apparently with the approval of many voters; but he has not followed through on his commitment to stimulate the economy at the same time. On the contrary, he is looking to seize funds from the Clean Energy Program (which are ratepayer contributions, not tax revenues), which will cripple that fledgling industry; when he promised during his campaign to support renewable energy as the future engine of NJ’s economy. Is it possible to do both at the same time?