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Thu Jul 26, 2012, 11:33 PM

Krugman: "Simply Crazy to Be Laying Off Schoolteachers and Canceling Infrastructure Projects..." [View all]


"Stop paying attention to the alleged wise men who hijacked our policy discussion and made the deficit the center of conversation."

Money for Nothing
Published: July 26, 2012

For years, allegedly serious people have been issuing dire warnings about the consequences of large budget deficits — deficits that are overwhelmingly the result of our ongoing economic crisis. In May 2009, Niall Ferguson of Harvard declared that the “tidal wave of debt issuance” would cause U.S. interest rates to soar. In March 2011, Erskine Bowles, the co-chairman of President Obama’s ill-fated deficit commission, warned that unless action was taken on the deficit soon, “the markets will devastate us,” probably within two years. And so on.

Well, I guess Mr. Bowles has a few months left. But a funny thing happened on the way to the predicted fiscal crisis: instead of soaring, U.S. borrowing costs have fallen to their lowest level in the nation’s history. And it’s not just America. At this point, every advanced country that borrows in its own currency is able to borrow very cheaply.

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So what is going on? The main answer is that this is what happens when you have a “deleveraging shock,” in which everyone is trying to pay down debt at the same time.

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Obligatory caveat: yes, we have a long-run budget problem, and we should be taking steps to address that problem, mainly by reining in health care costs. But it’s simply crazy to be laying off schoolteachers and canceling infrastructure projects at a time when investors are offering zero- or negative-interest financing.

That said, you should be a Keynesian, too. The experience of the past few years — above all, the spectacular failure of austerity policies in Europe — has been a dramatic demonstration of Keynes’s basic point: slashing spending in a depressed economy depresses that economy further.


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Reply Krugman: "Simply Crazy to Be Laying Off Schoolteachers and Canceling Infrastructure Projects..." [View all]
Hissyspit Jul 2012 OP
NRaleighLiberal Jul 2012 #1
MannyGoldstein Jul 2012 #2
grasswire Jul 2012 #3
coalition_unwilling Jul 2012 #4
grasswire Jul 2012 #6
coalition_unwilling Jul 2012 #7
XemaSab Jul 2012 #5