Alternatives to Austerity
European austerity is not causing renewed growth and it may not even be lowering debt ratios. Other than that, I guess it's going pretty well.
It's fun to rail against the dummies who thought austerity would work, but really, what else could the affected countries do? They can't use monetary policy because they don't have a currency and further fiscal expansion would cause the bond vigilantes to draw and quarter them.
Paul Krugman presents a complicated scenario where the ECB creates higher inflation and Germany runs a budget deficit to compensate for the austerity in Spain and Italy.
But Spain and Italy do NOT run the ECB or the German finance ministry!
The only alternative to austerity that the PIIGS have, that they can actually implement is to exit the Euro, devalue like crazy and hope for the best. They are choosing austerity over this step. I truly don't understand why, unemployment in Spain is well over 20% and climbing. It's hard to see how a Euro exit could make things worse.
In the West, we have spent decades getting conservative central bankers to be seen as the only proper type of central bankers, taking the Rogoff solution to the "inflation bias" problem highlighted by Barro & Gordon. But now we pretend to be shocked when these conservative bankers won't produce higher inflation.
Of course they won't, that's why they got the jobs to begin with!! If there was any chance they'd run higher inflation they'd never have been appointed.