Friday, June 21, 2013

Martin Wolf writes "Austerity has failed ... Not too late to change course"

by Bill McBride on 6/21/2013 07:06:00 PM

From Martin Wolf: How Austerity Has Failed

Austerity has failed. It turned a nascent recovery into stagnation. That imposes huge and unnecessary costs, not just in the short run, but also in the long term: the costs of investments unmade, of businesses not started, of skills atrophied, and of hopes destroyed.

What is being done here in the UK and also in much of the eurozone is worse than a crime, it is a blunder. ...

Austerity came to Europe in the first half of 2010, with the Greek crisis, the coalition government in the UK, and above all, in June of that year, the Toronto summit of the group of twenty leading countries. This meeting prematurely reversed the successful stimulus launched at the previous summits and declared, roundly, that “advanced economies have committed to fiscal plans that will at least halve deficits by 2013.”
...
What was the consequence? In a word, “dire.”
...
The right approach to a crisis of this kind is to use everything: policies that strengthen the banking system; policies that increase private sector incentives to invest; expansionary monetary policies; and, last but not least, the government’s capacity to borrow and spend.

Failing to do this, in the UK, or failing to make this possible, in the eurozone, has helped cause a lamentably weak recovery that is very likely to leave long-lasting scars. It was a huge mistake. It is not too late to change course.
There are many details in Wolf's piece. The good news is most people now recognize that austerity alone was a blunder. The bad news is policymakers in Europe are taking no action (maybe they will after Merkel is reelected on September 22nd).