Thursday, January 19, 2012

Austerity & Growth

There is a lot of discussion on the question of whether austerity is growth enhancing or not. While it's an entertaining debate, I get the feeling that the subtext is that European austerity only makes sense if it's growth enhancing, and I don't think that's true.

To my mind, Greece has two choices, default and devalue or continue on a path of ever greater austerity. Why they seem to be choosing option "b" is beyond my comprehension, but given they don't exit the system, what other option do they really have? Obviously they have no monetary levers. Obviously, they cannot borrow to finance further spending "stimulus". Obviously they cannot compel Germany to just pay up or the ECB to apply the monetary level system wide.  Obviously, they are not going to export their way to prosperity in the near term. So it's pretty much austerity uber alles for them.

Italy is in largely the same boat, except their borrowing rates have not hit Grecian heights due to ECB interventions. Their only options are austerity or exit.

As for the US of A, the idea that we are practicing fiscal austerity is risible. You can't even see austerity from where we are currently standing.


John D. said...

The money quote: "You can't even see austerity from where we are currently standing."

Well said!

Max said...

The question i would like to get answered is how an obviously defunct system like Greece will improve in the long run if they are bailed out by currency devaluation.. why would anyone abstain from business as usual in this new environmentk?