web analytics
The Standard

The failure of economic austerity

Written By: - Date published: 8:54 am, February 11th, 2013 - 18 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, International, national - Tags: , , ,

I know, I know, I’ve written about the failure of economic austerity before, like a broken record. But the evidence just keeps getting clearer and clearer. Paul Krugmann makes the case in his recent “Looking for Mister Goodpain“:

Three years ago, a terrible thing happened to economic policy, both here and in Europe. 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.

In recent columns, I’ve argued that worries about the deficit are, in fact, greatly exaggerated — and have documented the increasingly desperate efforts of the deficit scolds to keep fear alive. Today, however, I’d like to talk about a different but related 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, they’ve spent years looking for Mr. Goodpain.

Krugman then traces the history of failed austerity programmes in Ireland, Britain and (of all places) Latvia. He concludes:

So what do we learn from the rather pathetic search for austerity success stories? We learn that the doctrine that has dominated elite economic discourse for the past three years is wrong on all fronts. Not only have we been ruled by fear of nonexistent threats, we’ve been promised rewards that haven’t arrived and never will. It’s time to put the deficit obsession aside and get back to dealing with the real problem — namely, unacceptably high unemployment.

A follow-up piece by Gaius Publius has a title that really says it all – “No Austerity Has Helped Any Economy“. But Publius makes the point that there is actually a success story here – if you happen to be in the 1%:

Paul Krugman’s recent column looks at the romance between the “austerians” — the promoters of austerity for economically troubled nations — and the need to inflict pain to get economic gain. His bottom line — no country that has tried austerity has seen a major economic benefit. My bottom line — add “to its people” to the end of Krugman’s bottom line and you’ve got it exactly. There is an obvious economic benefit, but only for a few.

Publius calls the tiny minority who profit the “Baronial class”:

But the baronial class is also the predator class and they know precisely where the benefit (for them) always lies. This is the predator class in operation:

Income-disparity-1979-2007_CBPP

The Predator Class in action. If you added the Top .001% to this chart, it would have to be taller than you are.

If you added the Top .1%, the Top .01% and the Top .001% to that chart, you’d need a chart as tall as your room. What the chart calls the “Highest Fifth” includes what I call the “retainers” — administrators, enablers (that’s you, CNN producers) and professionals needed to keep the system working. Everyone else is workers, and look what their hard work got them. …

This is what James Galbraith calls “the predatory state” — and he means that economically. The predatory state is a state that enables and is controlled by economic predators, extremely wealthy vampires who feed on their fellow citizens.

And, sure enough, in NZ the Nats’ austerity cut cut cutting has left the economy stagnant, inequality on the rise, and the super rich getting richer. Welcome to the brighter future.

18 comments on “The failure of economic austerity”

  1. pollywog 1

    Social darwinism in action.

    Nature selects for the greedy?

    • geoff 1.1

      It’s basically tragedy of the commons where we, the serfs, are the shared resource. No doubt this is a good argument for the return of slavery.

  2. vto 2

    Does John Key have anything honest and full to say about this?

  3. RJLC 3

    No Austerity Has Helped Any Economy

    Arrgh, the grammar…it hurts.

    • just saying 3.1

      Austerity hurts a lot more.

      Which is the point I want to make. Austerity is already hurting people in NZ, the poorest, the sickest, those who are already struggling to get by, the newly unemployed, many are hurting from austerity right now.

      Any party that doesn’t commit to reversing the current austerity measures, raising taxes, and ameliorating the damage to our people and public (especially health) services is morally bankrupt, in mu opinion.

      You’ve said yourself austerity does not work. It has taken resources from the hardest-up and deposited them into the laps of the parasitic rich. I expect a commitment to some serious and immediate measures to repatriate those ill-gotten gains to their rightful communities. Well, from an honest, just, moral party I would…

  4. No real surprises here, but it sure scares a person.

  5. RedLogix 5

    This so called ‘austerity’ is nothing more than the triumph of billionaires:

    Setting aside the question of the validity of Keynesian arguments, they miss key purposes of austerity policies. Those policies do not primarily seek to overcome crisis or resume economic growth. Rather, as argued above, they aim chiefly to (1) shift the burden of paying for crisis and bailouts onto the total population, (2) reduce the economic footprint of the government, and (3) reduce creditors’ concerns about rising US debt levels. If austerity policies achieve these objectives, their failure to end the crisis quickly is a price that corporations and the rich are more than happy to pay (or rather, have others pay).

    http://truth-out.org/news/item/14389-austerity-us-style-exposed

    On the alternative side of the ledger:

    http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/14434-us-fiscal-debate-could-learn-from-norway

    Clearly Norway has had a different agenda with a different outcome.

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    My bottom line — add “to its people” to the end of Krugman’s bottom line and you’ve got it exactly. There is an obvious economic benefit, but only for a few.

    Oh, good, another person to point out the willful ignorance of Krugman. Austerity, just like capitalism itself, benefits a few people – it’s the same few people in both cases and they’re the ones calling for austerity. Of course, it’s not them that’s having to be austere – they’re living it up at everyone else’s expense.

  7. Gee the graph says it all.
    Why do people keep voting this approach in 😥

  8. Lloyd 8

    Surely if the economy is expanding the wealthy are going to become better off eventually rather than being at the top of a receding pile?
    Therefore isn’t a financial policy that helps expand the economy the best long-term policy for the rich?
    Isn’t it obvious that reorganising the economy to provide more income to the poorest members of our society will help expand our economy?
    Since we don’t want to borrow money from foreign banks to get that extra money to the poorest members of our society, isn’t the easiest ( or is it the only) way of finding that money by taxing the rich more?
    Why aren’t the richest members of our society jumping up and down demanding higher taxes for those with the highest incomes?

    • Afewknowthetruth 8.1

      You cannot have an expanding economy when you have a shrinking energy supply, as we have, and as most of the ‘developed’ world has.

      And as time goes on the ‘cake’ will get smaller and smaller, the best estimate is half the present size by 2030…… (that’s if it hasn’t all imploded long before).

      It is the ‘job’ of John Key top ensure that the elites continue to get far more than their fair share.

      If a Labour government were ever to be formed, its ‘job’ would be to ensure that the elites continue to get more than their fair share. That’s politics.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.2

      Therefore isn’t a financial policy that helps expand the economy the best long-term policy for the rich?

      Nope. Even if the economy was infinitely expanding, which it isn’t and can’t, the over accumulation at the top will eventually cause the economy to collapse – exactly as we’re seeing now with the GFC.

  9. Mike 9

    Joseph E Stiglitz explains in very good detail why austerity doesn’t work in his book “The Price of Inequality” which is an excellent read, as are most of his articles. He also devotes time to the subject of rent seeking (corporate welfare primarily) which is very interesting. Link below.

    http://www.ebook3000.com/The-Price-of-Inequality–How-Today-s-Divided-Society-Endangers-Our-Future_179787.html

  10. kiwi_prometheus 10

    I don’t think it is a conspiracy, more like a religious mentality or group think that you get when a hegemonic ideology has run its course. The priests keep delivering the same failed instructions really believing this time it will work.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Hospital food plan hits another sang
    The Government has been left with egg on its face with Hawke’s Bay District Health Board today giving a plan to outsource hospital food services the thumbs down, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Doing away with local kitchens by… ...
    13 mins ago
  • Wilkinson appointment wrong in principle
    The appointment of former Conservation Minister Hon Kate Wilkinson as an Environment Commissioner is wrong in principle, says Labour’s Shadow Attorney-General David Parker. “The doctrine of separation of powers requires judicial processes to remain separate and independent from the legislature… ...
    49 mins ago
  • McCully doesn’t deny bribe in Saudi sheep scandal
    “In Parliament today I asked Murray McCully directly: Why is he the first Minister in history to back a multi-million dollar facilitation arrangement which in other jurisdictions is called a bribe? says Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson David Parker.… ...
    52 mins ago
  • National must back our future doctors
    National must support our future doctors and agree to the calls from the Medical Students’ Association and the Young Nats to lift the arbitrary 7 year cap on student loans for medical and dental students, Labour’s Tertiary Education Spokesperson David… ...
    53 mins ago
  • Taxpayer the loser after Government folds
    Steven Joyce today admitted the main exhibition hall at the New Zealand International Convention Centre is 19 per cent smaller than what was described at the time other bidders were edged out of the process, Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David… ...
    2 hours ago
  • Govt’s lack of ambition for women
    Yesterday, the Government put out a media release entitled “Number of women leaders continues to grow”. It was to inform us that the percentage of women on state-appointed boards has increased to 41.7%, up from 41.1% in 2013. Well, woo-hoo… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    4 hours ago
  • Auditor-General exposes Key’s scapegoating of Council
    The National Government's blaming of Auckland Council for the city’s housing crisis has been exposed as scapegoating in the Office of the Auditor-General’s latest report, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Auditor-General says Auckland Council’s part in fixing the… ...
    6 hours ago
  • Reform – not money – needed for meat sector
    The National Government continues to throw good money after bad at the meat industry instead of addressing the fundamental problem of its dysfunctional structure, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “The latest Primary Growth Partnership grant to the venison… ...
    6 hours ago
  • Government cuts corners on school bus funding
    The safety of children – not cost cutting – should be the main objective behind the Government’s funding of school buses, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Buried in the detail of this year’s Budget are $19 million of funding… ...
    6 hours ago
  • Women the losers under National’s cuts
    National’s poor performance in appointing women to state sector boards is set to get worse with funding cuts to the nomination service provided by the Ministry for Women, Labour’s Woman’s Affairs spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “Minister for Women Louise Upston… ...
    6 hours ago
  • Help sought by agencies now asked to help
    The organisation Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has tasked with setting up an emergency hotline for stranded Relationships Aotearoa clients has just lost a bid for a government contract to launch a new national helpline, Labour’s Acting Social Development spokesperson… ...
    6 hours ago
  • Wellington got loud again on climate
    On Monday night, in Wellington, I attended the last of the Government’s climate target consultation meetings. It was quite well attended with maybe 150 people, not bad for a second meeting with very little notice and, as far as I… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    8 hours ago
  • Final nail in coffin for Solid Energy workers
    Today’s confirmation of job losses at Solid Energy’s Stockton and Spring Creek mines shows the urgent need for new economic opportunities on the West Coast, Labour’s MP for West Coast-Tasman Damien O’Connor says. “Our economy can no longer rely on… ...
    1 day ago
  • Ramadi proves Iraq deployment high risk, low benefit
    The fall of Ramadi and the collapse of the Iraqi Army proves Labour was right to be concerned about the deployment of our troops to Iraq, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says. “The fall of Ramadi brings IS fighters within… ...
    1 day ago
  • English admits new taxes on the cards
    Eight months after pledging “no new taxes” at the election Bill English today admitted he would bring in more sneaky taxes along the lines of the border tax, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Not only did National bring in… ...
    1 day ago
  • What the Dickens is going on at SDHB?
    Problems at the financially-strapped Southern District Health Board appear to stretch to its HR department with information obtained by Labour showing it still records staff leave entitlements using manual book-keeping methods. “The Board’s draft 10-year plan document forecasts a cumulative… ...
    1 day ago
  • Teachers turn backs on new professional body
      The fact that just 56 per cent of nominations for the Education Council came from registered teachers shows the profession has turned its back on Hekia Parata’s new professional body, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Answers to written… ...
    1 day ago
  • No spade work done on big building plan
      Only a quarter of the 500 hectares of Crown land the Government wants to use for new homes is understood to be suitable for building on, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “This was National’s bold new idea to… ...
    1 day ago
  • National: Seven KiwiSaver cuts in seven years
    National’s campaign of KiwiSaver cuts has reached seven in seven years as it dismantles KiwiSaver block by block, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “KiwiSaver is critical to establishing a savings culture in New Zealand but National has taken a jenga-style… ...
    1 day ago
  • Tolley’s actions contradict reassurances
    Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has serious questions to answer following the forced closure of Relationships Aotearoa just days after her reassurances she was looking at ways to keep the service operating, Labour’s Acting Social Development spokesperson Annette King says.… ...
    1 day ago
  • SkyCity downsize another broken promise
    The downsized SkyCity Convention Centre does not deliver on the promised iconic world-class centre and shows the true extent of Steven Joyce’s incompetence, Labour Leader Andrew Little said today. “New Zealanders were promised an iconic world-class convention centre that would… ...
    1 day ago
  • Te Arawa partnership model a step closer
    Councils around New Zealand have an opportunity to improve their consultation with Iwi Māori by following Rotorua District Council’s Te Arawa Partnership Model, Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says. “The Rotorua District Council will today decide whether to adopt… ...
    1 day ago
  • Labour mourns Dame Dorothy Fraser
    Labour Leader Andrew Little said the party is today mourning the loss of the youngest person to join the Labour Party, Dame Dorothy Fraser, who went on to be a stalwart of the Dunedin community and tireless worker for others.… ...
    2 days ago
  • The ultimate scapegoat: PM blames fruit fly for new tax
    The Prime Minister has found the ultimate scapegoat for breaking his promise not to introduce a new tax – the Queensland fruit fly, Labour’s Biosecurity spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “John Key’s first policy upon taking office and assigning himself the… ...
    2 days ago
  • How many victims missing out on protection?
    Hundreds of domestic abuse victims could be missing out on getting protection orders because they are unable to get legal aid, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.“In the last two years some 351 people who applied for legal aid for… ...
    4 days ago
  • Government kicks hardworking whanau
    A major incentive to help young Kiwis and people on low incomes to start saving has been kicked out from under them with the National-led Government ramming through short-sighted legislation under Urgency today, Labour’s Maori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says.… ...
    4 days ago
  • Speculator tax political stunt gone wrong
    Bill English’s admission he doesn’t know whether National’s new speculator tax will have any effect shows last weekend’s announcement by the Prime Minister was a desperate political stunt, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “This Government is so desperate to… ...
    4 days ago
  • The value of parenting
    This week, as part of the Budget, the government introduced a bill to address child poverty. This bill will require parents receiving income support to look for part-time work once their youngest child is three years of age rather than… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    4 days ago
  • Another new tax, another broken promise
    National has unveiled yet another new tax in this budget – a rural broadband levy that will almost certainly result in an immediate price hike for internet and telephone connections across New Zealand, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran said “The… ...
    5 days ago
  • Anniversary of Sri Lankan Tamil Massacre
    This is not going to be a happy story but if the Green Party of Aotearoa doesn’t want to know who else will? May 18th marks the anniversary of what is known as the ‘Mullivaikal massacre’ of Tamils in 2009 at… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    5 days ago
  • Labour MPs join youth to take part in 40 hour famine
    A team of Labour MPs took part in the 2015 World Vision 40 hour famine and we were told by World Vision and the young people, that it was the first time MPs had joined them and how appreciative they… ...
    5 days ago
  • Rodeo: ‘Family entertainment’ or animal abuse?
    Recently  TVNZ ran a story with confronting footage showing rodeo animals being punched, repeatedly shocked with electronic prods and having their tails violently twisted over their backs. It was clear that significant force was being used behind the scenes to make… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    5 days ago
  • Budget puts the squeeze on police
    The Government has cut funding to the New Zealand police force in the latest Budget, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The reduction is a whopping $15.3 million that could put front line officers at risk. ...
    5 days ago
  • Crucial social services take another hit
    The Government looks set to slash half a million dollars of funding for critical social services, including Women’s Refuge and Barnados, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni “Taking $500,000 from organisations aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable families… ...
    5 days ago
  • Saying it Loud on Climate in Christchurch
    The Government’s Christchurch consultation meeting on New Zealand’s emission targets was inspiring – not for what was in the Ministry for the Environment’s (MFE’s) defeatist video about the obstacles to changing to a low carbon future, but for what the… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    5 days ago
  • Budget silent on small business
    The Government has completely ignored one of the most important sectors of the economy – small and medium-sized enterprises – in Budget 2015, Labour’s Small Business spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. "A stunning 41 per cent of jobs were created by… ...
    5 days ago
  • Thank you John, it’s been bloody marvellous
    The departure of John Campbell is a blow to current affairs investigative journalism, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Campbell Live stood out in its field. Its axing comes as local broadcasting in New Zealand remains in a state of… ...
    5 days ago
  • KiwiSaver cut shows no long-term plan
    National’s cutting of the KiwiSaver kickstart is incredibly short-term thinking, typical of a Budget that is woefully short on ideas to generate wealth and opportunity, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “New Zealand’s savings rate is far too low. KiwiSaver… ...
    5 days ago
  • National hits the panic button for its 7th Budget
    National has hit the panic button for its 7th Budget in a desperate attempt to look like they’re taking action to reduce our shameful child poverty rates, but they are giving with one hand and taking with the other, Opposition… ...
    6 days ago
  • Panic and back-flips can’t hide twin deficits
    National’s token measures to fight fires they have left burning for seven long years can’t hide a Budget that is long on broken promises, short on vision and fails to reach surplus, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “After being… ...
    6 days ago
  • Auckland land measure seven years too late
    National are so desperate to look like they are doing something about the Auckland housing crisis they have dusted off Labour’s 2008 inventory of government land available for housing and re-announced it, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Despite National… ...
    6 days ago
  • Access to gender reassignment surgery essential
    I was frankly disgusted to hear the Minister for Health say that funding gender reassignment surgeries is a “nutty idea”. A recent study found that in New Zealand 1% of young people identified themselves as transgender, and 3% were unsure… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Global milk prices now lowest in 6 years
    The latest fall in the global dairy price has brought it to the lowest level in six years and shows there must be meaningful action in tomorrow’s Budget to diversify the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Dairy prices… ...
    1 week ago
  • Big risks as CYF checks stopped
    Revelations that Child, Youth and Family is no longer assisting home-based early childhood educators by vetting potential employees should set alarm bells ringing, Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “Doing away with an extra mechanism for checking potential new employees… ...
    1 week ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    1 week ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    1 week ago
  • State of origin
    Kiwis are increasingly concerned about the food they give their families. New Zealand consumers have the right to know where their food has come from, particularly when it involves animals, and should be able to expect our Government to label… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • Relationships Aotearoa
    It is disturbing that Relationships Aotearoa, a voluntary organisation set up in 1949 to help couples struggling with their relationships following the upheavals of World War II, may be forced to close, says Acting Spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community… ...
    1 week ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere