Stimulus vs. austerity: Getting it just right

The impending fiscal cliff could disrupt the post-financial-crisis adjustment process and benign pattern of gradual transition in the U.S. economy, however. The cases of Japan in the 1990s, and Spain more recently, demonstrate that if economies are not sufficiently advanced in their private-sector recoveries and deleveraging processes, an excessive emphasis on near-term fiscal austerity may ultimately be counterproductive.

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