** Money Well-Spent by Michael Grabell

With a similar title, but on a completely different topic than the disappointing Money Well Spent reviewed a few months ago that focused on philanthropy, this book,  Money Well Spent?: The Truth Behind the Trillion-Dollar Stimulus, the Biggest Economic Recovery Plan in History explores the outcome of the stimulus. The picture is quite bleak, both because of the abundance of examples of misspent funds and also the very structure of the program, which appears to have spread itself too thin to make a visible impact — and that’s before the author considers the dysfnctions of the early Obama presidency, as described in exhaustive detail in Confidence Men,

Although the author does not go quite that far, it also seems that a major failure was a classic failure of defining metrics and targets ahead of time to decide how to measure success — apart from an unemployment percentage that was incautiously plucked from thin air at the last minute before presenting the package to Congress, and turned out to be a political disaster. Overall it’s very unclear what the government can do to fix economic problems. Perhaps doing nothing at all may be the better course of action…

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