...austerity, as much as the data has disproven the claim that it would be through reduction in government spending and increased confidence that advanced economies will return to healthy growth rates, it does not seem to lose its appeal... As an example, here is a CNBC article that provides a long list of arguments of why austerity is winning the war. The arguments: the UK is finally growing, Spain's GDP is not falling anymore and even in Greece we now start seeing the possibility of positive growth. And where is this coming from? From the austerity that these wise governments have implemented over the last year. This is, of course, a misleading analysis of the data. It is still the case that countries where austerity was the strongest have seen the lowest growth rates (and the largest increase in debt). The only reason why these three countries are either returning to growth or not collapsing anymore is that after such a deep crisis, growth must return at some point. Yes, even without any policy actions to support growth, economies recover. But they do so slowly and they will never return to where they should have been. And just to get the facts straight, in these three countries, governments have stopped being a large drag in the economy. When you reduce government spending growth suffers. Once government has stabilized at a low level it does not become a drag on growth.
The last five years have provided an incredible macroeconomic experiments to learn about the effects of monetary and fiscal policy to stabilize cycles. But it seems that this crisis will be wasted, not so much in terms of implementing reforms but in terms of our ability to use data to improve our understanding of macroeconomics.
Posted by Mark Thoma on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 12:15 AM in Economics |