Tag Archives: Eurozone

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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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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Deflation Dementia

By William K. Black

There must be some café in Brussels where all the most inept U.S. financial journalists meet with the troika-trolls to get their take on eurozone deflation.  Regular readers know that I am a strong critic of much of what passes for financial journalism, but there are special qualities to the U.S. coverage of the topic of eurozone deflation.  It is so homogenous and its logic is so internally inconsistent that it is breathtaking that so many journalists can repeat the same demented “logic” no matter how many times we explain that it is facially nonsensical.

The latest example of this genre is an AP story that has already been reproduced by elite media without even a scintilla of scrutiny.  Here’s how the AP begins its tale.

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Dear Dr. Krugman: Please Let Me Explain

By Joe Firestone

Paul Krugman can’t explain why the deficit issue has suddenly dropped off the agenda. He says:

. . . quite suddenly the whole thing has dropped off the agenda.

You could say that this reflects the dwindling of the deficit — but that’s old news; anyone doing the math saw this coming quite a while ago. Or you could mention the failure of the often-predicted financial crisis to arrive — but after so many years of being wrong, why should a few months more have caused the deficit scolds to disappear in a puff of smoke?

Why indeed are they so quiet? Could it be because the deficit hawks have succeeded in getting the short-term result they want, which is a likely deficit too small to sustain the private savings and import desires of most Americans, and also because the political climate is such right now that they cannot make progress on their longer term entitlement-cutting program until after the coming elections have resolved the issue of whether there will be strong resistance to such a campaign if they renew it? Let’s look at the budget outlook first.

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The Eurozone’s “Nascent” Recovery

By William K. Black

On January 19, 2014 I posted a column entitled “Deflation: The Failed Macroeconomic Paradigm Plumbs New Depths of Self-Parody” that discussed the insanity of the Eurozone’s approach to “the threat of deflation.”  The EU’s troika cannot understand that deflation is produced by inadequate demand and that the way to prevent it is to use fiscal policy to fill the gap in demand rather than waiting for deflation to hit and then trying to check it through “quantitative easing (QE).”

My January 25, 2014 column (“Spain Rains on Rehn’s Austerity Victory Parade: Unemployment Rises to 26%”) explained how a few weeks after the troika cited Spain as its success story proving the wisdom of austerity, unemployment in Spain – already above Great Depression levels – increased to 26%.

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Deflation: The Failed Macroeconomic Paradigm Plumbs New Depths of Self-Parody

By William K. Black

Patient bleeding out?  Don’t treat the bleed; keep the crash cart nearby

Imagine you were a doctor in the ER when a patient was brought in presenting symptoms indicating a likely internal bleed.  Here are the two critical questions you face.

  1. Would you (a) find and stop the bleed or (b) wheel the patient off to a “recovery” room with instructions to alert the crash cart to be ready to try to revive the patient should he go into cardiac arrest due to the continued, untreated bleed?
  2. If you chose option (b) in response to the first question, would you tell them to (a) use the crash cart that is known to be most effective, or (b) use the experimental prototype crash cart that has never been used successfully to revive a patient suffering from a cardiac arrest triggered by an untreated bleed and that most physicians think employs a methodology that is inherently incapable of reviving such patients?

If you picked option (b) in response to both questions, congratulations!  Your patient may have died and your career in medicine may be over but you have demonstrated that you are the very model of the modern chief economist of the IMF, OECD, and ECB.  Your initial salary in those positions may not dwarf your income as an incompetent physician, but the financial industry loves to make wealthy the “useful idiots” of the IMF, OECD, and the ECB and similar entities as soon as they leave what is termed “public service” (rather than “servicing the banksters”).

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How to Exit Austerity, Without Exiting the Euro

By Rob Parenteau

First of all, if a government stops having its own currency, it doesn’t just give up ‘control over monetary policy’…If a government does not have its own central bank on which it can draw cheques freely, its expenditures can be financed only by borrowing in the open market, in competition with businesses, and this may prove excessively expensive or even impossible, particularly under ‘conditions of extreme urgency’…The danger then is that the budgetary restraint to which governments are individually committed will impart a disinflationary bias that locks Europe as a whole into a depression it is powerless to lift.

So wrote the late Wynne Godley in his August 1997 Observer article, “Curried Emu”. The design flaws in the euro were, in fact, that evident even before the launch – at least to those economists willing to take the career risk of employing heterodox economic analysis. Wynne’s early and prescient diagnosis may have come closest to identifying the ultimate flaw in the design of the eurozone – a near theological conviction that relative price adjustments in unfettered markets are a sufficiently strong force to drive economies back onto full employment growth paths.

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William Black at CFIA Conference

South-South News interviews NEP’s William Black at CFIA Conference. He provides his extended dispair with Eurozone policies.

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The New York Times Thinks Bleeding Cyprus is “Strong Medicine”

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

I’m announcing the New York Times award for incompetence in macroeconomic reporting (IMR, pronounced like “screamer”).  I suggest that the paper offer as a prize to awardees a two hour lunch with Krugman in which he provides a remedial economics lecture.  My premise is that it is impossible to be a NYT reporter and fail to know that the paper has a Nobel Laureate in economics who writes a regular column for the paper and frequently discusses making economic downturns worse by inflicting self-destructive austerity.  Even the most casual reader of Paul Krugman’s columns would know that opposition to austerity has long been the dominant view among economists and that over the last five years events here and in Europe have again confirmed that view.  Continue reading

Comparing Unemployment During the Great Depression and the Great Recession

By William K. Black

Barry Eichengreen’s and Tim Hatton’s January 1988 paper entitled “Interwar Unemployment in International Perspective” is a useful starting point for any effort to compare unemployment during the Great Depression and the Great Recession.

It is useful to begin by recognizing three related cautions that the authors make in that paper.  First, the modern sense of the term “unemployment” (willing and able to work, but unable to find a job commensurate with the worker’s skills) was not common until the decades before the Great Depression.  The prior assumption was that people were unemployed because they were lazy.  There was little understanding of business cycles or inadequate demand, little sympathy for the unemployed, and no sense that business or government were primarily responsible for the the level of unemployment.  This meant that keeping data on unemployment was rarely a concern of government.  Data on unemployment in Europe was largely collected through industrial trade unions.

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