In America the distraction has gone so far as to misrepresent the numbers of unemployed. The talks of things getting better are a distraction to the public so no uprising happens.
Three years ago, a terrible thing happened to economic policy. Although the worst of the financial crisis was over, economies on both sides of the Atlantic remained deeply depressed, with very high unemployment. Yet the Western world’s policy elite somehow decided en masse that unemployment was no longer a crucial concern, and that reducing budget deficits should be the overriding priority.
Worries about the deficit are greatly exaggerated – and I have documented the desperate efforts of the deficit scolds to keep fear alive. Today, however, I’d like to talk about a different kind of desperation: the frantic effort to find some example, somewhere, of austerity policies that succeeded. For the advocates of fiscal austerity – the austerians – made promises as well as threats: austerity, they claimed, would both avert crisis and lead to prosperity.
And let nobody accuse the austerians of lacking a sense of romance; in fact…
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