Tag Archives: austerity

Two EU Finance Ministers Throw their Bosses and Nations Under the Bus

By William K. Black

The finance ministers of Italy and Serbia have just publicly thrown their heads of state and their nations under the bus.  In a testament to the crippling effect of the belief that “there is no alternative” (TINA) to austerity, these finance ministers have insisted on bleeding economies that are in desperate need of fiscal stimulus.  Their pursuit of economic malpractice is so determined that they eagerly sought out opportunities to embarrass the democratically elected head of state in Serbia when he dared to support competent economic policies.

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Merkel’s Pyrrhic Victory over Cameron

By William K. Black

The old line that one should be very careful about what one wishes for – for you may receive it applies to Germany’s installation of Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the EU Commission. Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel has just crushed her UK counterpart (David Cameron) by orchestrating a nearly unanimous vote among EU nations to appoint (not, really, “elect”) Juncker as head of the EU Commission (not, really, “Parliament”).

The old days of needing to hide Germany’s control of the EU through the façade of a German-French partnership are long gone.  EU nations know that there will be a high price to pay for attempting to buck Germany – and that the effort will fail.  Cameron’s effort to block Juncker is generally viewed outside of the UK as quixotic and humiliating while Merkel is viewed as reigning supreme and serene.

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It’s Long Past Time for Krugman to Name and Shame NYT’s Eurozone Reportage

By William K. Black

Monday, July 7, 2014 provided another example of Paul Krugman explaining why austerity was an insane response to the Great Recession and the New York Times authoring another of its endless articles that assumes that austerity is essential to a eurozone recovery. I have no problem with the NYT reporters providing their rationale for why they concluded that Krugman was wrong and that austerity is the proper response to a recession. My problems are with the NYT reporters ignoring Krugman’s views – views shared by the great bulk of economists – and with their failure to question whether austerity is the proper response to a recession.

Recessions occur when demand becomes seriously inadequate and industries fire workers and decrease production and investment. Austerity further reduces already inadequate demand by reducing public sector demand. Austerity is akin to bleeding the patient (the economy) to make him well. It would, therefore, be exceptionally strange if austerity were to be the optimal response to the Great Recession. We have a great deal of real world experience in dealing with recessions that confirms that austerity is self-destructive in such circumstances.

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Matteo Renzi Puts the Lie to “There is not alternative” (TINA) to Austerity

By William K. Black

In a recent column I responded to a conservative scholar’s (Victor David Hanson) claim that U.S. “employment rates for college graduates are dismal” by showing that the employment rate for college graduates seeking employment was 96.8% – and rising.

Employment rates for recent college graduates are far worse than “dismal” in the periphery of Europe because the EU troika (the ECB, the EU Commission, and the IMF) have inflicted austerity on these nations.  This produced a gratuitous second Great Recession in the Eurozone as a whole, but it also caused Great Depression levels of unemployment in Spain, Greece, and Italy.  Those three nations have over 100 million in total population – roughly one-third of the eurozone’s total population.  College graduates in these nations have unemployment rates ten times greater than in the U.S.  (Hanson is a big fan of austerity, so he managed to get everything – the facts and the cause – reversed in his fable.)

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The Tories Refuse to Take Responsibility for the EU “Fault Lines” They Decry

By William K. Black

The Tory insider and journalist Matthew D’Ancona has written a remarkably disingenuous op ed in the New York Times entitled “Europe’s Dangerous New Fault Line.”

The setting for the op ed is three related crises that D’Ancona’s dogmas have helped create (and a fourth one that is likely in the process of being created).  D’Ancona, of course, ignores causation and his responsibility for the policies that caused each of the crises.  The three crises are the Great Recession, the gratuitous second recession (Second Great Depression in the case of Spain, Greece, and Italy), and the rise of fascist and racist parties in the EU.  The fourth crisis that may be developing is the troika’s austerity policies forcing several EU nations back into a third recession.

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Where Do the Troika, WSJ & NYT Think Deflation Comes From?

By William K. Black

If the troika (the European Commission, ECB, and IMF) taught sex education students would believe that storks brought children, that sex had nothing to do with pregnancy, that confident women never got pregnant, and that women should be forced to lose weight when they became pregnant.  The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times would repeat these myths as science. The NYT would employ one of the world’s top gynecologists (Dr. Krugman).  Dr. Krugman would debunk these myths nearly every week – and neither the troika nor the reporters for the NYT and the WSJ would ever listen to him.

The last several days have led to a flurry of WSJ and NYT stories about “deflation.”  I just posted critiques of some of the earlier stories here and here.

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The Troika Continues to Harm the Eurozone and the WSJ continues to Miss the Story

By William K. Black

The European Central Bank’s (ECB) written policy is to maintain the eurozone inflation rate at just under two percent.  The ECB has consistently failed to achieve that goal.  Indeed, its failure has been growing steadily.  The ECB’s failure tells us something enormously important about what is wrong with the eurozone’s economy and the troika’s bleeding of that economy through austerity.  The ECB’s increasing inability to even come close to its inflation target demonstrates that demand remains woefully inadequate in the Eurozone – making austerity an insanely self-destructive policy. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on the ECB’s latest failure in an article entitled “German Inflation Rate Plummets as Manufacturing Slows.”

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The Troika Attack Italy for Refusing to Bleed the Economy

By William K. Black

The title to the latest Wall Street Journal article on Italy is “EU Tells Italy to Adopt More Austerity Measures.”  It’s an old, stupid remedy.  If you hit your carburetor with a hammer and it doesn’t fix it – hit it harder and more often.  Italy is the troika’s carburetor and austerity is its hammer.

The Troika’s Response to Renzi’s Electoral Success: Crush Him

The general context of the troika’s latest act of depravity is particularly interesting.  The troika consists of the European Commission, the IMF, and the ECB.  The troika’s insistence that the periphery inflict austerity caused not simply a gratuitous second recession through much of the EU but a Second Great Depression in Italy, Spain, and Greece.  One-third of the eurozone’s population – 100 million people – was kicked into a Great Depression due to the troika’s long-falsified economic dogmas.

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Spain’s “Stimulus” Plan: An Oxymoron Crafted by Regular Morons

By William K. Black
(Cross posted from Benzinga.com)

Spain’s conservative government, eager to change the media’s emphasis on its repudiation in recent EU elections, has launched a media campaign stressing its adoption of an aggressive “stimulus” program.  Spain’s conservatives – and their predecessors the so-called socialists – are infamous for embracing the troika’s demands for austerity.  Why have the Spanish conservatives finally admitted that austerity is a disaster and stimulus is essential?  They have not done so.  Instead, they have rebranded “austerity” as “stimulus.”

“MADRID—Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is planning to launch a €6.3 billion ($8.59 billion) economic stimulus package, a move to keep sky-high unemployment and the risk of deflation from derailing the country’s recovery.

Mr. Rajoy told 200 business leaders at a conference in Sitges, near Barcelona….”

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Will the EU’s Austerity Prove as Radicalizing as the Washington Consensus?

By William K. Black

President Rafael Correa of Ecuador owes a triple debt to John Williamson, the economist who coined the term “the Washington Consensus” in a paper he first presented in 1989.  His paper is open about the focus of that consensus: Latin America.  Latin America was to be transformed through policies on which the United States Government, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the Washington “think tanks” had reached a consensus.  Those policies had four key components.

  • Require a sufficient stream of payments of interest by Latin American debtors to U.S. banks to ensure that the banks would not have to recognize large losses on their loans
  • Require Latin American nations to adopt austerity
  • Require substantial deregulation, and
  • Require substantial privatization

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