No, Business Is Not Slowing Down Because of the Fiscal Cliff

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In his column today, Neil Irwin quotes the CEO of AT&T claiming that “uncertainty” over the fiscal cliff is restraining business growth. This is a common claim, but Irwin correctly points out that “a slowing in business spending took effect long before the term ‘fiscal cliff’ had even been coined.” He’s right. But just saying this doesn’t make it clear just how dramatic the slowdown has been. As you can see in the chart on the right, business investment growth has been on a clear downward slope for the past three years. This obviously has nothing whatsoever to do with fear of the fiscal cliff.

I’m a cynic, so I suppose you should take my views on the business community with a shaker of salt. Nonetheless, here’s what I think we should conclude from this: Fortune 500 CEOs should never be taken seriously on macroeconomic issues. Their job is to dole out high-grade BS in public, and politics and macroeconomics are just grist for their mill. Every word out of their mouths is special pleading, and that’s how the business press ought to treat it. I really have no idea why anyone ever takes them seriously on this stuff.

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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