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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"This Really Isn’t Credible"

Teaching day, so a quick one on Greece -- the reviews are in:

Greece, by Paul Krugman:

We must do something. This is something. Therefore we must do it.

Yes, Minister.

What can I say? As Felix Salmon says, this really isn’t credible. The problem with all previous rounds here has been that austerity policies depress the economy to such an extent that it wipes out most of the topline fiscal gains: revenue fall, so does GDP, so the projected debt/GDP ratio gets, if anything, worse.

Now we have another round of austerity — which is assumed not to do too much damage to growth. The triumph of hope over experience.

OK, nobody here is an idiot (although see my next post). What’s happening is that nobody is prepared to take the plunge into either of the paths that might eventually lead out of this: sustained aid (not loans) to Greece, or departure from the euro, leading eventually to higher competitiveness and faster growth. Both options would be politically catastrophic, which means that they can’t be taken until there is literally no alternative.

So Greece will be strung along some more.

    Posted by on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 10:47 AM in Economics, Financial System, International Finance | Permalink  Comments (65)


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