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Monday, January 16, 2012

Feldstein: How to Create a Depression

Martin Feldstein has a warning about European plans for further austerity:

European political leaders may be about to agree to a fiscal plan which, if implemented, could push Europe into a major depression. ...

The European Union’s summit in Brussels ... agreed to cap annual “structural” budget deficits at 0.5% of GDP, with penalties imposed on countries whose total fiscal deficits exceeded 3% of GDP – a limit that would include both structural and cyclical deficits, thus effectively limiting cyclical deficits to 3% of GDP. ...

The most frightening recent development is a formal complaint by the European Central Bank that the proposed rules are not tough enough. Jorg Asmussen, a key member of the ECB’s executive board, wrote to the negotiators that countries should be allowed to exceed the 0.5%-of-GDP limit for deficits only in times of “natural catastrophes and serious emergency situations” outside the control of governments.

If this language were adopted, it would eliminate automatic cyclical fiscal adjustments, which could easily lead to a downward spiral of demand and a serious depression.

    Posted by on Monday, January 16, 2012 at 12:57 PM in Budget Deficit, Economics, Fiscal Policy | Permalink  Comments (14)


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