Austerity Is “Complete Horsesh*t”

Elias Esquith in AlterNet:

AusterityAs devoted readers of Paul Krugman know well, there’s plenty of evidence from the last six years indicating that austerity, the idea that the government can best boost the economy by engaging in significant tax cuts as well as spending cuts, simply doesn’t work — at least not in today’s economic conditions. With the U.S. going through a period of significant GDP growth, a decrease in the unemployment rate and a falling deficit, it’s a lesson that holds less salience today than it did in years past. But in the eurozone economy, the application of “expansionary austerity” has been vigorous — and rather unsuccessful.

But with the victory of the anti-austerity party Syriza in Greece’s recent election, the state-of-play in Europe has changed dramatically. After years of economic pain and dislocation, Greek citizens now have a reason — however small — to hope that political pressure may force the leaders of the eurozone (German Chancellor Angela Merkel, first and foremost) to reevaluate their approach. Still, years of failure have not loosened austerity’s grip on much of the West; the appeal of the economic philosophy to its proponents seems to operate beyond the level of simple reason.

And this is why Brown University professor Mark Blyth’s book “Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea,” released in paperback last month, remains such necessary reading. Simultaneously functioning as an economics explainer, a merciless polemic, and a penetrating history, Blyth’s book offers a clear insight into austerity’s lineage, its theories, its champions and its failures.

More here.