Tag Archives: austerity

Hollande Channels Pétain and Chooses Economic and Political Suicide

By William K. Black

In a prior column I described how the finance ministers of Italy and Serbia committed financial malpractice and betrayed their nations and their heads of state by insisting on bleeding the economy through austerity to make it healthy.  “Two EU Finance Ministers Throw their Bosses and Nations Under the Bus.”

In France, however, Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg risked his political life to try to prevent President Hollande from throwing France and the Socialist Party under the austerity bus.  Hollande and Prime Minister Valls proved that no good deed goes unpunished by forcing Montebourg out of his position and throwing the Nation and their Party under the bus.  Montebourg proved the truth of the proverb that warns that it is dangerous to be correct when those in power are desperately wrong.

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Europe’s Lousy Bank Loans Expose the “Recovery” Myth

By William K. Black

One of the great lies of the financial industry is that it is the engine of Main Street’s growth.  Giving the finance industry an enormous share of total business profits was supposed to super charge Main Street’s growth.  It has never delivered on this promise.  The truth is the opposite.  The efficiency condition for a middleman like finance is that its size and profits should be minimized.  Finance’s fraud epidemics blew up the world economy and devastated Main Street.  Finance is a parasite that saps Main Street.  The latest example of this comes in a New York Times article about European bank’s bad loans.

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Italian’s Apology for German Austerity Diktats Lasts 24 Hours

By William K. Black

On August 13, 2014, the  International New York Times printed an op ed by Beppe Severgnini attacking Matteo Renzi, Italy’s Prime Minister.  Severgnini offered readers this classic question and answer.

“So why is Italy’s economy, the eurozone’s third largest, the only major one in Europe currently flatlining? Last week Istat, the national statistics bureau, reported that it had contracted in two successive quarters for the third time since 2007, plunging us into a triple-dip recession.

How did we pull that one off? Plenty of plausible explanations blame the feckless government of Silvio Berlusconi, or the acquiescent administrations of Mario Monti and Enrico Letta that followed, the latter two having imposed the European Union’s — or rather, Berlin’s — belt-tightening on a country needing to boost consumption and investment.

But blaming Brussels, or anyone else abroad, is wrong. The rest of Europe followed the German diktat, and yet Italy is the only one suffering.”

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The Real Fiscal Responsibility Talk Show Pilot Project

By Joe Firestone

This pilot project and the radio/video shows it will produce and place on the web is for everyone tired of hearing economic commentary from those who got everything wrong. For decades, the doctrine of “Fiscal Responsibility” interpreted as long-term deficit reduction and Government austerity has had a secure place in American politics. This doctrine is the economic equivalent of the medieval notion that patients must be bled to cure them of disease. And this truth is reflected in the economic history of the United States at least since 1976, when we first began to practice ideology-based austerity in its modern form by planning for deficit reduction and balanced budgets in order to decrease the debt-to-GDP ratio.

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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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