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Joseph Stiglitz, Aaron Edlin, and J. Bradford DeLong

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231143653

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231143653.001.0001

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The High Cost of the Iraq War

The High Cost of the Iraq War

(p.80) Chapter 10 The High Cost of the Iraq War
The Economists' Voice

Joseph E. Stiglitz

Columbia University Press

Shortly before the current Iraq War, Bush administration economist Larry Lindsey suggested that the costs of war might range between $100 billion and $200 billion, other officials quickly demurred. But it is now clear that Lindsey's numbers were a gross underestimate. Concerned that the Bush administration might be misleading everyone about the Iraq War's costs, the author teamed up with Linda Bilmes, a budget expert at Harvard, to examine the issue. This chapter presents their findings. Among them is that the estimated costs of war range from slightly less than a trillion dollars (conservative estimate) to more than $2 trillion (moderate estimate). Their calculations incorporated the future burden on the government's budget of additional military pensions and the impact of higher oil prices on the economy as well as the opportunity cost of government spending diverted from other areas to fighting the war. Needless to say, all of the types of costs considered have continued to rise since the estimates here were prepared.

Keywords:   Iraq War, Bush administration, Larry Lindsey, costs of war, economic costs, government spending

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