Menzie Chinn sums up private sector forecasters’ view of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:
From the WSJ March survey survey of forecasters, the results indicate that instead of the 0.15% growth rate recorded in 09Q4 y/y growth, the growth rate would have been -0.93%. For 2010Q4 Q4/Q4 growth, they forecast 3% growth, and in the absence of the ARRA, they would have predicted 2.2% growth. In addition, 75% of the respondents believed the stimulus plan was a net positive for growth, 12% a net negative, and 14% neither.
The forecasters also say that the Fed’s emergency monetary expansions boosted growth, and they calculate that monetary action had a bigger impact than fiscal action, which is exactly what I would expect since monetary expansion was less politically constrained than fiscal action. The important thing to note about these forecasts isn’t that they’re flawless, but that they’re offered by people who don’t have political axes to grind. They make a living by selling macroeconomic analysis to for-profit business enterprises, and thus are mainly concerned with trying to bolster their reputation for handing out good advice.