Alan Reynolds writes Demand-Side Policy Gave Us the Big Economic Fizzle in The Wall Street Journal.


Demand-side economists focus on incentives to borrow and spend. Supply-side economists focus on incentives to work, save, invest and launch new businesses. Demand-side economists focus on the uses of income and debt (consumption). Supply-side economists focus on sources of income and wealth.

From the perspective of demand-side bookkeeping, the fact that consumer spending in 2012 accounted for 68.6% of GDP supposedly means economic growth depends on consumer sentiment. Viewed from the supply side—the sources of GDP—private industry accounted for 86.5% of GDP. If private businesses had not produced $14.1 trillion, consumers could not possibly have consumed $11.1 trillion. Economies do not grow because consumers spend more; consumers can spend more only if economies grow.

The time for demand-side gimmicks has long passed. The remarkably aggressive fiscal and monetary effort to stimulate demand did not stimulate demand. Even if it had worked, we can’t pretend to be “fighting recession” forever. Today’s economic predicament is not a cyclical crisis but a sustained, subsidized lethargy. Different tasks require different tools. When the number of job seekers falls twice as fast as the increased number of jobs, that is a supply-side problem.