Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Simon Wren-Lewis — Measuring the cost of austerity

Talking more generally of austerity, David Stuckler says: “These are massive uncontrolled experiments with entire populations. Had austerity been organised like a drug trial, with a board of ethics, it would have been discontinued, given evidence of its deadly side-effects and the failure of its purported economic benefits to accrue.”
Now some might say that because austerity need not necessarily involve measures that have large negative health outcomes, statements like this, and indeed the title of their book, is alarmist. This is similar to the Troika saying that they are quite right to insist on fiscal contraction so that the interest on Greek loans can be repaid, because it is up to the Greek government how it chooses to reduce its deficit. Typically, however, the same people who make that kind of excuse are also those who want to direct austerity to cutting spending rather than raising taxes, and who complain about the ‘burden’ of social programmes.
Mainly Macro
Measuring the cost of austerity
Simon Wren-Lewis | Professor of Economics, Oxford University

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