The NY Times editors have claimed possession of the economics profession fo rthemselvs and all right-minded (i..e., left-leaning) people:
What the Stimulus Accomplished
Of all the myths and falsehoods that Republicans have spread about President Obama, the most pernicious and long-lasting is that the $832 billion stimulus package did not work. Since 2009, Republican lawmakers have inextricably linked the words “failed” and “stimulus,” and last week, five years after passage of the Recovery Act, they dusted off their old playbook again.
This may be the singular tragedy of the Obama administration. Five years later, it is clear to all fair-minded economists that the stimulus did work, and that it did enormous good for the economy and for tens of millions of people. But because it fell short of its goals, and was roundly ridiculed by Republicans and inadequately defended by Democrats, who should have trumpeted its success, the president’s stimulus plan is now widely considered a stumble.
Individuals and families largely saved the transfers and tax rebates. The federal government increased purchases, but by only an immaterial amount. State and local governments used the stimulus grants to reduce their net borrowing (largely by acquiring more financial assets) rather than to increase expenditures, and they shifted expenditures away from purchases toward transfers. Some argue that the economy would have been worse off without these stimulus packages, but the results do not support that view.
To which I should add this reprise of the executive summary of a McKinsey study of recessions and de-leveraging:
The deleveraging episodes of Sweden and Finland in the 1990s are particularly relevant today. They show two distinct phases of deleveraging. In the first, households, corporations, and financial institutions reduce debt significantly over several years, while economic growth is negative or minimal and government debt rises. In the second phase, growth rebounds and government debt is reduced gradually over many years.
So even if the only effect of the government stimulus was to increase government borrowing and reduce state and household borrowing, that still helped move along the process of deleveraging in the private sector. The Feds borrowed so we didn't have to, which eventually was a good thing. But all the Keynesian multiplers people liked to toss around are much less relevant if the recovery was really a story of de- and re-leveraging.
Let me also add my assessment of Ezra Klein's review of some of the "convincing" studies showing the stimulus worked.