By Jeffrey Sommers, Arunas Juska and Michael Hudson*
(Cross-posted from Counterpunch)
The Baltic states have discovered a new way to cut unemployment and cut budgets for social services: emigration. If enough people of working age are forced to leave to find work abroad, unemployment and social service budgets will both drop.
This simple mathematics explains what the algebra of austerity-plan advocates are applauding today as the “New Baltic Miracle” for Greece, Spain, and Italy to emulate. The reality, however, is a model predicated on economic shrinkage as a result of wage cuts. In the case of Latvia, this was some 30 percent for Latvian public-sector employees (euphemized as “internal devaluation”). With a set of flat taxes on employment adding up to 59% in Latvia (while property taxes are only 1%), it would seem hard indeed to present this as a success story.