What are you doing with stimulus funds? Do economists know which kinds of ways to spend it will ripple the furthest?
The very short answer is that economists don’t get stimulus funds (they earn too much).
Right now donating to food banks is probably the best bet because getting people fed has huge beneficial effects on everything that creates or costs. Basically anything that helps kids will have bigger bang for the buck than things that help adults (There’s a really interesting not technically meta-analysis, but colloquially meta-analysis, on this by Nate Hendricks and Raj Chetty and someone else, I think, but basically programs to help kids help the economy in the short and long term by more than anything else). Feeding people makes them more productive, less hangry, helps their mental facilities, decreases their stress, increases their growth etc. etc. There’s a reason it’s near the base of the hierarchy of needs. An email I just got says that “40% of households are reporting moderate to high levels of food insecurity and 20% of children are experiencing food insecurity.” Many food banks (at least those in the Feeding America network, according to an employee who gave a guest lecture in one of my classes a few years back) also have access to the wholesale food markets, meaning that all that food that isn’t getting bought by restaurants can be distributed to foodbanks from the larger networks. Money to grease those wheels can do a lot of good. (Here’s a webinar.)
Also (less mainstream economics opinion now): activism is going to have a huge impact over the next year—if we lose the post office, if they don’t take steps to make outside safer, if they re-elect Trump, all of this will have lasting impacts on the economy for generations. So… call your congresspeople about the post office. Buy some post-cards and stamps or printer paper and stamps and do post-cards to voters or letters to voters.
In terms of buying things that you want and not just giving money away? That’s harder… I mean, oil prices are down, but long-term we don’t really want more driving because climate change is bad for the economy long-term. Stick to buying from small shops not through amazon or places like instacart or grubhub. We want to decrease the monopoly power of these companies– competition is a good thing. I have been using amazon as the last resort these days even if it takes longer to get things elsewhere.
What are you doing with stimulus funds?