The following letter, by sixteen economists, thirteen of whom are associated with the IEA, has received considerable news coverage since its publication:
Further to your interview with Alistair Darling, we would like to dissent from the attempt to use a public works programme to spend the country's way out of recession.
It is misguided for the Government to believe that it knows how much specific sectors of the economy need to shrink and which will shrink "too rapidly" in a recession.
Thus the Government cannot know how to use an expansion in expenditure that would not risk seriously misallocating resources.
Furthermore, public expenditure has already risen very rapidly in recent years, and a further large rise would take the role of the state in many parts of the economy to such a dominant position that it would stunt the private sector's recovery once recession is past.
Occasional slowdowns are natural and necessary features of a market economy.
Insofar as they are to be managed at all, the best tools are monetary and not fiscal ones. It is inevitable that government expenditure and debt naturally rise in a recession but planned rises in government spending are misguided and discredited as a tool of economic management.