How to Spend a Trillion Dollars

That's how much money Barack Obama says is needed to kick-start the economy. How he spends it could determine the fate of his presidency

Brooks Kraft / Corbis for TIME

President-elect Barack Obama

John Maynard Keynes, the trendiest dead economist of this apocalyptic moment, was the godfather of government stimulus. Keynes had the radical idea that throwing money at recessions through aggressive deficit spending would resuscitate flatlined economies — and he wasn't too particular about where the money was thrown. In the depths of the Depression , he suggested that the Treasury could "fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coal mines" then sit back and watch a money-mining boom create jobs and prosperity. "It would, indeed, be more sensible to build houses and the like," he wrote,...

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