Yesterday austerity, today growth – but leopards don’t change their spots

It has been interesting to watch how various members of my profession are dealing with the on-going crisis over the last 4 years. Clearly, imbued with the notion that the “business cycle” is dead, which the mainstream macro economists had been attempting to establish as a given in the public debate, most economists were in denial at the outset of the crisis. That denial moved into the manic deficit terrorism that has sought to reconstruct the private debt crisis into a sovereign debt crisis – which allowed them to vent on their pet topic – dislike of government fiscal policy when used to increase employment. They have no problems with active fiscal policy when it is aimed at contraction. They just hate the public sector supporting growth even when the private sector is incapable of doing so. But as the empirical reality has increasingly rejected the predictions of the mainstream macroeconomic models – there has been no inflation breakout or rising interest rates or sovereign government insolvency – there has been a shift going on. Some of those that were advocating austerity now seem to be advocating growth. But when you dig a little deeper there is no fundamental catharsis in my profession going on. The only motivation for those now saying Europe needs growth not austerity is that they are trying to distance themselves from the train wreck that the political leaders are creating there. As the title suggests – yesterday austerity, today growth – but leopards don’t change their spots.

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