Matt Yglesias at Slate helpfully provides the following:
Remember that the current labor report showed an increase of 234,000 jobs -- which is 26,000 more than the curve which has recession ending in ... 2024. (For these purposes, we're saying that the recession ends when all the jobs lost during the recession have been recovered.)
At 321,000 jobs per month (which would be an increase of 33% over the current level), we're out of the recession in 2017. And at 472,000 (which more than doubles the current rate), we're done next year.
So we remain firm in our support for an additional stimulus package, but an imperfect but more realistic alternative would be what Yglesias calls for today -- a new quantitative easing policy, QE3. The Fed has already had the common decency to say that it now plays "to keep short-term interes rates near zero until late 2014," according to the New York Times. But the Fed can do more and -- most importantly -- it doesn't have to face the obstructionism created by the Republicans in Congress.
We have never been big fans of quantitative easing -- we strongly prefer the federal government work to create more demand directly through a stimulus -- but it looks like it's done some good, and it's one of the few things the Fed can do by itself.
Meaning it's one of the few things that can be done -- period.