IN the face of this eco­nomic crisis, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has all but declared uni­lat­eral dis­ar­ma­ment. The Fed­eral Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, has vowed to keep real interest rates near zero, but even at that level few are bor­rowing. Over at the White House and on Capitol Hill, the pur­suit of deficit reduc­tion has taken on a reli­gious fervor just when the economy needs a stimulus.

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