Pro Perspectives 3/31/21

March 31, 2021

The President made his case today for a big infrastructure spend. 

There's a lot of chatter about getting bipartisan buy-in, but make no mistake, this next massive tranche of government spending will pass (whatever the amount, and whatever the wish list).  This was a done deal on January 5th, when Georgia flipped the Senate.

And while it's packaged as "infrastructure," this is all about the Green New Deal/clean energy economic transformation. 

If it were really about infrastructure, it would have been done to pull us out of the Great Recession.  When Obama walked into office, within weeks he had $787 billion to dole out in fresh fiscal stimulus.  His case to the American people:  "we need to rebuild our roads, our bridges, our ports …"

Twelve years later, Biden has walked into office, and his case for a massive spending package has been read from the same script:  "It's time to finally start building an infrastructure … rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our ports …"

Something tells me this $2 trillion won't go toward rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our ports.  We will see.

If this money is allocated well, and significantly boosts productivity (the amount of economic output we produce per hour of work), then great.  We get a reset higher in economic output (GDP).  And that would ultimately assuage some debt concerns and hyper-inflation concerns. 

But as you can see in this chart from the BLS, productivity growth has been sluggish for the past 13 years, despite roughly $5 trillion of fiscal stimulus over that period. 

If this money is allocated poorly, and does NOT increase productivity.  We will be left with the inflation scenario, and a massive debt burden that will ultimately be penalized, as foreign investors will vote with their feet, departing our financial markets and our currency.


For now, the markets have priced in the optimistic scenario.  The anticipation of a massive infrastructure bill has already resulted in a tripling in the stock of one of the historic American steel makers (a triple since election day).