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IMF Chief Economist apologizes for not recognizing how much damage austerity...

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Nov 30, 2006
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Ireland's austerity program includes lots of tax increases.

Its taken a Herculean effort on the part of Pres. Obama to finally get Republicans to accept some tax increases.

His next task will be getting Congress to accept some cuts to our military industrial complex.
I'm not going down that road for the moment. My whole point is that austerity programs have been effective for some countries. I'll leave it at that for now.
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
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I'm not going down that road for the moment. My whole point is that austerity programs have been effective for some countries. I'll leave it at that for now.
Effective compared to what? Policies have to be viewed in comparison to their alternatives, and in that light its hard to see austerity as anything but a dismal failure it stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of depression economics.
 
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Effective compared to what? Policies have to be viewed in comparison to their alternatives, and in that light its hard to see austerity as anything but a dismal failure it stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of depression economics.
What alternate courses of action were available to these countries that would have resulted in better results?
 

Tom

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
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I'm not going down that road for the moment. My whole point is that austerity programs have been effective for some countries. I'll leave it at that for now.
Ok, you don't care to discuss it, but to reiterate, "austerity" for the countries you're saying have benefitted from it doesn't mean just spending cuts.

It means tax increases too.
 
Nov 30, 2006
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Ok, you don't care to discuss it, but to reiterate, "austerity" for the countries you're saying have benefitted from it doesn't mean just spending cuts.

It means tax increases too.
I understand that. It can also mean substantial wage and benefit cuts as well.

I would like to discuss your point but I don't have a lot of time today. Sorry.
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
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What alternate courses of action were available to these countries that would have resulted in better results?
They could have abandoned the Euro, for one. I don't know enough about their individual circumstances to say if that would have been preferable, and absent that they had to do something like this. (or absent responsible EU monetary policy). That being said, the results have been horrid. I see no way in which this dismal performance shows austerity's efficacy, it just seems to show how badly they damage an economy as well as how badly the EU is integrated.

If our standard is that almost a half decade later that their economy will start growing again amid 15% unemployment and that's a success, I'm not sure I want to know what failure looks like. (it is also interesting to see such standards when stimulative US policies are labeled a failure despite our drastically superior performance.)
 

glenn1

Lifer
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If our standard is that almost a half decade later that their economy will start growing again amid 15% unemployment and that's a success, I'm not sure I want to know what failure looks like. (it is also interesting to see such standards when stimulative US policies are labeled a failure despite our drastically superior performance.)
Thankfully, I already showed you what failure looked like here and here earlier in the thread. Both of which you conveniently ignored.

Since you're pro-stimulus, here's what should be an easy question for you. If stimulus actually worked, why is Japan not greatly outperforming the U.S. since their stimulus has been both greater and in effect for much longer?
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
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Thankfully, I already showed you what failure looked like here and here earlier in the thread. Both of which you conveniently ignored.

Since you're pro-stimulus, here's what should be an easy question for you. If stimulus actually worked, why is Japan not greatly outperforming the U.S. since their stimulus has been both greater and in effect for much longer?
Huh? Sorry, I missed those. Iceland did not engage in stimulus, btw. What I find funny is that results similar to Iceland are being trumpeted as signs of austerity's success.

Whole I don't know a ton about Japan, they suffered massive deflation and a huge balance sheet recession combined with a recently strong currency in an export based economy. When they tried stimulus, they concentrated it in small sectors and overall spread its impact out over years instead of focusing it in a short time frame. Also, why would the length of stimulus mean that they would outperform the US? That's nonsensical.
 

glenn1

Lifer
Sep 6, 2000
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Huh? Sorry, I missed those. Iceland did not engage in stimulus, btw. What I find funny is that results similar to Iceland are being trumpeted as signs of austerity's success.
I guess you agree with Paul Krugman, who said "Iceland did not engage in fiscal stimulus; it didn’t have to, given the kick from a huge depreciation of the currency." Admittedly, Iceland may not be a perfect country to use in either support or opposition to austerity/stimulus since it's not very populated (~200k residents) or economically diverse.

More to the point, there's no example that shows either approach works very well or demonstates consistent results. Japan tried stimulus and is still moribund after 20+ years, the U.S. tried stimulus and struggles to maintain above zero growth after trillions in spending, China tried stimulus and its GDP growth dropped. OTOH, Ireland tried austerity and had a sizable drop in GDP. Germany went austere and is doing well. Iceland and Latvia tried "austerity by devaluation" and are now growing again albeit at the cost of a big loss in purchasing parity for their currency and resulting inflation.

To me, the only thing this shows is that economies return to mean regardless of what fiscal approach you attempt. You can rip the bandage off quickly (via austerity or devaluation) or slowly via stimulus, which may seem to help temporarily but in reality simply "borrows" future growth by deficit spending and malinvestment. There simply is no silver bullet.
 
Nov 30, 2006
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They could have abandoned the Euro, for one. I don't know enough about their individual circumstances to say if that would have been preferable, and absent that they had to do something like this. (or absent responsible EU monetary policy). That being said, the results have been horrid. I see no way in which this dismal performance shows austerity's efficacy, it just seems to show how badly they damage an economy as well as how badly the EU is integrated.

If our standard is that almost a half decade later that their economy will start growing again amid 15% unemployment and that's a success, I'm not sure I want to know what failure looks like. (it is also interesting to see such standards when stimulative US policies are labeled a failure despite our drastically superior performance.)
So...let me get this straight...you speculate that abandoning the Euro would have been a better course of action for these countries without providing any evidence to support your opinion...yet you remain adamant that austerity wasn't effective which directly conflicts with the facts I posted. Interesting.
 
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fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
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So...let me get this straight...you speculate that abandoning the Euro would have been a better course of action for these countries without providing any evidence to support your opinion...yet you remain adamant that austerity wasn't effective which directly conflicts with the facts I posted. Interesting.
No. I said that was a possibility while mentioning that I couldn't make a judgment call on it due to lack of information. You asked and I answered, specifically adding a caveat. Why you would question this is simply baffling unless you just want to argue for its own sake.

I believe the catastrophic performance of your 'success' stories is evidence of the damage austerity inflicts, not evidence of its effectiveness.
 
Nov 30, 2006
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No. I said that was a possibility while mentioning that I couldn't make a judgment call on it due to lack of information. You asked and I answered, specifically adding a caveat. Why you would question this is simply baffling unless you just want to argue for its own sake.

I believe the catastrophic performance of your 'success' stories is evidence of the damage austerity inflicts, not evidence of its effectiveness.
In other words...you have no alternative course of action for these countries that would have resulted in better results. Got it.

Here's a current look at 10 year international bond rates. The confidence level for Ireland has substantially improved in the marketplace over the past year. The markets think they must be doing something right.

http://markets.ft.com/RESEARCH/Markets/Government-Bond-Spreads

You see damage...yet the markets see good progress. Isn't that odd?
 
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Darwin333

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Dec 11, 2006
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Every country that controls its own currency is seeing dramatically lower borrowing costs than others. As I mentioned before, the UK and Spain have been in (relatively) similar boats for fiscal matters, yet the UK's debt is cheap as hell and Spain is suffering from a debt crisis.

People have been predicting that the bond markets would soon cease to lend us money at these rates for going on about four years now. They have been wrong over and over and over again. At what point do people start to rethink what they know about bond markets?
Are you implying that people with billions of dollars actually enjoy investing in something in which they know they will lose money (albeit a limited and rather defined amount which is the purpose)?
 

Darwin333

Lifer
Dec 11, 2006
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Krugman's mythical bond vigilantes, right?

They don't exist. Bond yields are a function of supply & demand. In a flight to liquidity, which is really what's been happening, investors just want a safe place to park their money, which drives yields down. US Treasuries are the safest investment in the world, followed closely by Japan & England.
Ding ding ding.

Now consider if there was no need for a safe place to park their money, do you think we would still enjoy the same bond rates?
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
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Are you implying that people with billions of dollars actually enjoy investing in something in which they know they will lose money (albeit a limited and rather defined amount which is the purpose)?
No. I'm saying that liquidity from controlling your currency has a large positive effect on borrowing rates. What's not clear about this?
 

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