Statement by US Economists on Iraq

EPS prepared a statement against unilateral initiatives for war in Iraq , which was endorsed by more than 200 economists including seven Nobel Laureates and two former Chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisers. 

The text of the statement formed the basis of an ad in the Wall Street Journal on March 18, 2003 (click here for .pdf version).

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

Clark Abt
Daron Acemoglu
Benjamin Alamar
Abbas Alnasrawi 
Polly Allen
Neil Alper 
Blair Alpert-Sandler
Theodore W. Anderson
Ali Arshad
Kenneth J. Arrow *
John S. Atlee 
Asatar Bair
Dean Baker
Stephen E. Baldwin
Pranab Bardhan
Nancy S. Barrett 
Janis Barry
Randall Bartlett 
Parantap Basu
Rathin Basu 
Joan Bavaria 
Amanda Bayer 
Jess Benhabib 
Pierpaolo Benigno
Barbara Bergmann 
Gunseli Berik
Carole Biewener
Cihan Bilginsoy
Cyrus Bina
Stanley W. Black
Judith Blau
Patrick Bolton
Roger Even Bove
Kenneth D. Boyer
Elizabeth Brainerd
Jurgen Brauer
Andrew Brimmer 
David S. Brookshire
Robert Buchele 
John P. Burkett, 
Paul Burkholder
Glen G. Cain, 
Al Campbell
Alfred B. Carlip
Vivian Carlip 
David Cass 
Jens Christiansen 
Polly Cleveland 
Jim Cobbe
Stephen P. Coelen
Robert M. Coen 
Steve Cohn
Laura D'Andrea Tyson 
Jane D'Arista
James G. Devine
Randall Dodd
Peter Dorman
Thomas A Downes
Lloyd J. Dumas 
Richard W England
Christian Fauliau
Rashi Fein
William D. Ferguson
Ronald Findlay
Dietrich Fischer
Duncan K. Foley
Ronald L. Friesen
Byron Gangnes
Robert Scott Gassler
James K. Galbraith 
John Kenneth Galbraith
Ilhan Kubilav Geckil
Helen Ginsburg
David Gold 
Neva Goodwin 
Ilene Grabel
Timothy W. Guinnane
Robert Guttmann
Bronwyn H. Hall
John M. Halstead 
Alan Harper
Jonathan M. Harris
Tom Head
Daryl Hellman
Susan Helper
Peter Hess
Bert G. Hickman 
Thomas L. Hungerford 
Michael Intriligator
Walter Isard
Parul Jain
Kenneth P. Jameson 
Rajani Kanth
Richard F. Kaufman 
Lawrence R. Klein *
Richard Kohl
Denise Eby Konan
Kate Krause 
Mark Kuperberg
John Kwoka 
Sumner La Croix
Lester Lave
Lori Leachman 
Donghoon Lee 
Sang-Hyop Lee
PingSun Leung
Guido Lorenzoni
Catherine Lynde
Jay R. Mandle 
Shephen A. Marglin
Roberto S. Mariano
Judy Markland
Ann Markusen 
David Martin
John Tepper Marlin 
Andrew Mason
Julie A. Matthaei
Elaine McCrate
Daniel McFadden *
Robert J. McIntyre
Will Milberg
Lawrence Mishel 
Fred Moseley
Peter Mueser 
Lynne Murguia
E. Wayne Nafziger 
Edward J. Nell
Julie A. Nelson
Teresa D. Nelson
Douglass North *
Mark Obrinsky
Mehmet Odekon
Efe Ok
Stephen O'Connell

Brendan O'Flaherty
Spencer Pack 
Kichool Park
Eva Paus
Lynne Pepall
Brian J. Peterson
Luigi Pistaferri
Robert Pollin
Marshall Pomer
Thomas Michael Power
Frederic L. Pryor
Debraj Ray
James E. Rauch 
Robert Reich 
Nola Reinhardt
Helene Rey
Dan Richards
Tom Riddell
S. Abu Turab Rizvi
Robert Robertson
Judith Robinson
Frank Roosevelt
Don Roper
Sumner M. Rosen
Arthur H. Rosenfeld
David R. Ross
Jeffrey D. Sachs
Sidney Saltzman
Max B. Sawicky
Thomas Scheetz
Robert J. Schwartz 
Michael Schwarz
Willi Semmler
Charles W. de Seve
Edward H. Shaffer
Anwar Shaikh 
William F. Sharpe *
Cheryl Smith
J. W. Smith
Robert M. Solow *
Dominick Salvatore
Sally Weaver Sommer
Steve Spear
Marcus Stanley
Joseph E. Stiglitz *
Michael A. Stoller
Paul Streeten
Lance Taylor 
Scott R. Templeton
Frank Thompson
Charles Tontar
Ann Velenchik
Shapoor Vali
Marjolein van der Veen
Milledge S. Weathers
Mark Weisbrot
Dorrie Weiss
Helmut Wendel
Sarah E. West
William D. White
Gordon C. Winston
Cecilia Ann Winters
Ann D. Witte
Justin Wolfers
June Zaccone 
David J. Zimmerman
Carol L. Zytnik

*Nobel Laureate