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Statement by US Economists on Iraq War

ECAAR has prepared a statement against unilateral initiatives for war in Iraq (full text below - signatories). We will distribute the statement for signature to some 1000 US academic, business, and policy economists. The statement can also be viewed in .pdf for a printable version.

To sign on to the statement, please send an e-mail to Lucy Webster (mailto:lucywebster@ecaar.org).(Please include your name and your affiliation (e.g. university, company) FOR IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES ONLY. Signers are presumed to speak for themselves alone.)

Please circulate this statement to your colleagues and interested others.

Full Text of Statement

As American economists, we oppose unilateral initiatives for war against Iraq, which we see as unnecessary and detrimental to the security and the economy of the United States and the entire world community.

If war would serve to counter a clear threat to the country, the economic consequences would be secondary. But we question whether war would serve security and not increase the risk of future instability and terrorism. We see the immediate human tragedy and devastation of war as clear; and we see as well serious potential economic harm to our nation and to the world.

Given the precarious state of our own economy, America requires the attention and focus of leadership and resources to address economic problems at home. Instead, leadership and resources are being diverted to an unnecessary and costly war. As UN Chief Inspector Hans Blix points out, the objective of containment is being achieved now, by 250 inspectors at a cost of $80 million per year, in contrast to a force of some 150,000 soldiers and at least $100 billion for war.

No administration can credibly promise to solve all problems simultaneously, and as a result of our administration's comparative neglect, the American economy suffers the following serious problems:

First, private business investment in the United States has not yet started to recover in most areas. Lack of new investment means lack of jobs. The prospect of war threatens America's financial, energy and other markets. And the larger commitment of the administration to the military will impede, not advance, the recovery of the technology sector, by drawing resources away from civilian applications.

Second, there is a recent and troubling slowdown in consumer spending, which has been supporting the slow recovery. American households are highly indebted. Only low interest rates, continuing demand in the housing sector, moderate oil prices and cheap imports have kept the consumer going. We fear that war may significantly drive up interest rates and oil prices. If indeed this is so, or if the ongoing decline in the dollar goes too far, the effect could be to unleash a major consumer retrenchment in the United States, overwhelming the added government military spending.

Third, state and local government budgets continue to suffer. These budget shortfalls are translating into service cuts and tax increases. Either way, household budgets will take a serious hit. The war fever in Washington is blocking efforts for revenue sharing with the states, which is a major way the federal government could prevent a state and local calamity, and it is blocking adequate support efforts for homeland security. Nor can we hope, in such a climate, to address our continuing and larger problems of health care, education, unemployment, and poverty, all of which remain urgent concerns here at home.

During the 1990's America enjoyed strong economic growth, strong financial markets and unprecedented job expansion. We believe a contributor to that growth was the "peace dividend" following the end of the cold war. Unfortunately, in place of a "peace dividend," today we are being offered a "war surcharge," which will be further aggravated by the effect of a war on the price of oil, especially if it results in destabilizing Saudi Arabia.

The current policy of sponsoring a new war in the Middle East plays "Russian roulette" with our economy. Instead, our leaders should focus on restoring our economy and stimulating job growth. The American people cannot afford to tolerate a mismanaged economy or a naïve underestimation of America's economic perils.

We ask economists, business leaders and all Americans to join us in opposition to the decision to go to war and instead to support a return to a policy that pays adequate attention to the needs of our economy. We do not believe that this war is necessary to the national security of the United States. A sound economy is necessary to the security of the United States and to peaceful world economic development.

Signatories to date - 6 March 2003

Clark Abt
Abbas Alnasrawi
Polly Allen
Neil Alper
Blair Alpert-Sandler
Kenneth J. Arrow *
Daron Acemoglu
John S. Atlee
Asatar Bair
Nancy S. Barrett
Janis Barry
Randall Bartlett
Parantap Basu
Rathin Basu
Joan Bavaria
Amanda Bayer
Jess Benhabib
Pierpaolo Benignol
Barbara Bergmann
Gunseli Berik
Carole Biewener
Cihan Bilginsoy
Cyrus Bina
Stanley W. Black
Judith Blau
Patrick Bolton
Roger Even Bove
Elizabeth Brainerd
Jurgen Brauer
Andrew Brimmer
David S. Brookshire
Robert Buchele
John P. Burkett
Glen G. Cain
Al Campbell
Alfred B. Carlip
Vivian Carlip
David Cass
Jens Christiansen
Polly Cleveland
Jim Cobbe
Stephen P. Coelen
Robert Coen
Steve Cohn
Laura D'Andrea Tyson
Jane D'Arista
James G. Devine
Randall Dodd
Peter Dorman
Lloyd J. Dumas
Richard W England Christian Fauliau
Rashi Fein
Ronald Findlay
Duncan K. Foley
William D. Ferguson
Ronald L. Friesen
Robert Scott Gassler
James K. Galbraith
John Kenneth Galbraith
Helen Ginsburg
David Gold
Neva Goodwin
Ilene Grabel
Tim Guinnane
John M. Halstead
Jonathan M. Harris
Tom Head
Daryl Hellman
Peter Hess
Bert G. Hickman
Thomas L. Hungerford
Michael Intriligator
Walter Isard
Kenneth P. Jameson
Richard F. Kaufman
Lawrence R. Klein *
Kate Krause
Mark Kuperberg
John Kwoka
Sumner La Croix
Lester Lave
Lori Leachman
Donghoon Lee
Guido Lorenzoni
Jay R. Mandle
Roberto S. Mariano
Judy Markland
Ann Markusen
David Martin
John Tepper Marlin
Julie A. Matthaei
Elaine McCrate
Daniel McFadden *
Robert J. McIntyre
Lawrence Mishel
Fred Moseley
Peter Mueser
E. Wayne Nafziger
Edward J. Nell
Julie A. Nelson
Teresa D. Nelson Douglass North *
Mark Obrinsky
Stephen O'Connell
Brendan O'Flaherty
Spencer Pack
Eva Paus
Brian J. Peterson
Thomas Michael Power
Fred Pryor
Debraj Ray
James E. Rauch
Robert Reich
Nola Reinhardt
Dan Richards
Tom Riddell
S. Abu Turab Rizvi
Robert Robertson
Judith Robinson
Don Roper
Sumner M. Rosen
David R. Ross
Jeffrey D. Sachs
Sidney Saltzman
Max A. Sawicky
Thomas Scheetz
Robert J. Schwartz
Michael Schwarz
Willi Semmler
Charles W. de Seve
Anwar Shaih
William F. Sharpe *
J. W. Smith
Robert M. Solow *
Sally Weaver Sommer
Steve Spear
Marcus Stanley
Joseph E. Stiglitz *
Michael A. Stoller
Lance Taylor
Scott R. Templeton
Frank Thompson
Charles Tontar
Shapoor Vali
Helmut Wendel
Sarah E. West
Gordon C. Winston
Cecilia Ann Winters
Ann D. Witte
June Zaccone
David J. Zimmerman
Carol L. Zytnik

*Nobel Laureate

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