May 3, 2013
Paul Krugman recently tried to declare victory for Keynesian economics over so-called austerity, but all he really accomplished was to show that tax-financed government spending is bad for prosperity.
More specifically, he presented a decent case against the European-IMF version of “austerity,” which has produced big tax increases.
But what happens if nations adopt the libertarian approach, which means “austerity” is imposed on the government, rather than on taxpayers?
In the past, Krugman’s also has tried to argue that European nations have erred by cutting spending, but this has led to some embarrassing mistakes.
- He asserted that “British growth has stalled” because of “spending cuts,” but he overlooked the elementary fact that government spending in the U.K. was growing twice as fast as inflation.
- And in the case of Estonia, where there actually were genuine spending cuts, he wanted people to somehow think that those cuts in 2009 were responsible for an economic downturn that occurred in 2008.
Now we have some additional evidence about the absence of spending austerity in Europe. A leading public finance economist from Ireland, Constantin Gurdgiev, reviewed the IMF data and had a hard time finding any spending cuts.
...in celebration of that great [May 1] socialist holiday, “In Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy and France tens of thousands of people took to the streets to demand jobs and an end to years of belt-tightening”. Except, no one really asked them what did the mean by ‘belt-tightening’. …let’s check out expenditure side of Europe’s ‘savage austerity’ story… The picture hardly shows much of any ‘savage cuts’ anywhere in sight.As seen in his chart, Constantin compared government spending burdens in 2012 to the average for the pre-recession period, thus allowing an accurate assessment of what’s happened to the size of the public sector over a multi-year period.