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Under such a dynamic—where the supply is vertical—the only thing that increases the output (and therefore economic growth) is increased production in the supply of goods and services as illustrated below:

Three Pillars

The three supply-side pillars follow from this premise. On the question of tax policy, supply-siders argue for lower marginal tax rates. In regard to a lower marginal income tax, supply-siders believe that lower rates will induce workers to prefer work over leisure (at the margin).

In regard to lower capital-gains tax rates, they believe that lower rates induce investors to deploy capital productively. At certain rates, a supply-sider would even argue that the government would not lose total tax revenue because lower rates would be more than offset by a higher tax revenue base—due to greater employment and productivity.

On the question of regulatory policy, supply-siders tend to ally with traditional political conservatives—those who would prefer a smaller government and less intervention in the free market.

This is logical because supply-siders—although they may acknowledge that the government can temporarily help by making purchases—do not think this induced demand can either rescue a recession or have a sustainable impact on growth.

The third pillar, monetary policy, is especially controversial. By monetary policy, we are referring to the Federal Reserve"s ability to increase or decrease the quantity of dollars in circulation (i.e. where more dollars mean more purchases by consumers, thus creating liquidity).

A Keynesian tends to think that monetary policy is an important tool for tweaking the economy and dealing with business cycles, whereas a supply-sider does not think that monetary policy can create economic value.

While both agree that the government has a printing press, the Keynesian believes this printing press can help solve economic problems. But the supply-sider thinks that the government (or the Fed) is likely to create only problems with its printing press by the following:

Creating too much inflationary liquidity with expansionary monetary policy, orNot sufficiently "greasing the wheels" of commerce with enough liquidity due to a tight monetary policy.

What's Gold Got to Do With It?

Since supply-siders view monetary policy, not as a tool that can create economic value, but rather a variable to be controlled, they advocate a stable monetary policy or a policy of gentle inflation tied to economic growth—for example, 3% to 4% growth in the money supply per year.

This principle is the key to understanding why supply-siders often advocate a return to the gold standard, which may seem strange at first glance (and most economists probably do view this aspect as dubious).

The idea is not that gold is particularly special, but rather that gold is the most obvious candidate as a stable "store of value." Supply-siders argue that if the U.S. were to peg the dollar to gold, the currency would be more stable, and fewer disruptive outcomes would result from currency fluctuations.

As an investment theme, supply-side theorists say that the price of gold—since it is a relatively stable store of value—provides investors with a "leading indicator" or signal for the dollar"s direction. Indeed, gold is typically viewed as an inflation hedge. And although the historical record is hardly perfect, gold has often given early signals about the dollar.

Supply-Side Economics FAQs

Why Is It Called Supply-Side Economics?

It is called supply-side economics because the theory believes that production (the "supply" of goods and services) is the most important macroeconomic component in achieving economic growth.

What Is the Opposite of Supply-Side Economics?

The opposite of supply-side economics is Keynesian economics, which believes that the demand for goods (spending) is the key driver for economic growth.

What Is Reaganomics?

Reaganomics is a term for President Ronald Reagan"s economic policies that focused on tax cuts for the wealthy, believing that they would lead to savings and higher investments, which would produce economic benefits that would trickle down to the entire economy. Reaganomics also focused on increased military spending and the deregulation of domestic markets.

Is Keynesian Economics Supply-Side or Demand-Side?

Keynesian economics is demand-side economics, which believes that demand in the economy is the key driver to growth. The increase or decrease in demand for goods and services impacts how much supply producers bring into the economy.

Keynesian economics believes that If consumer demand is decreasing then it is the responsibility of the government to increase spending and intervene with fiscal and monetary stimuli.

How Are Supply-Side and Demand-Side Economics Different?

Supply-side economics believes that producers and their willingness to create goods and services set the pace of economic growth while demand-side economics believes that consumers and their demand for goods and services are the key economic drivers.

The Bottom Line

Supply-side economics has a colorful history. Some economists view the supply-side as a useful theory. Other economists so utterly disagree with the theory that they dismiss it as offering nothing particularly new or controversial as an updated view of classical economics.

Based on the three pillars discussed above, you can see how the supply side cannot be separated from the political realms since it implies a reduced role for the government and a less-progressive tax policy.

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