Manic-depressive austerity: let’s talk about it!

By Christophe Blot, Jérôme Creel, and Xavier Timbeau

Following discussions with our colleagues from the European Commission [1], we return to the causes of the prolonged period of recession experienced by the euro zone since 2009. We continue to believe that premature fiscal austerity has been a major political error and that an alternative policy would have been possible. The economists of the European Commission for their part continue to argue that there was no alternative to the strategy they advocated. It is worth examining these conflicting opinions. Continue reading “Manic-depressive austerity: let’s talk about it!”

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Spain: a lose-lose strategy

by Danielle Schweisguth

At a time when the IMF has publicly recognized that it underestimated the negative impact of fiscal adjustment on Europe’s economic growth, Spain is preparing to publish its public deficit figure for 2012. The initial estimate should be around 8% of GDP, but this could be revised upwards, as was the case in 2011 – while the target negotiated with the European Commission is 6.3%. With social distress at a peak, only a sustainable return to growth would allow Spain to solve its budget problems through higher tax revenue. But the austerity being imposed by Europe is delaying the return of economic growth. And the level of Spain’s fiscal multiplier, which by our estimates is between 1.3 and 1.8, is rendering the policy of fiscal restraint ineffective, since it is not significantly reducing the deficit and is keeping the country in recession. Continue reading “Spain: a lose-lose strategy”

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A review of the recent literature on fiscal multipliers: size matters!

By Eric Heyer

Are the short-term fiscal multipliers being underestimated? Is there any justification for the belief that fiscal restraint can be used to drastically reduce deficits without undermining business prospects or even while improving the medium-term situation? This is this question that the IMF tries to answer in its latest report on the world economic outlook. The Fund devotes a box to the underestimation of fiscal multipliers during the 2008 crisis. While until 2009 the IMF had estimated that in the developed countries they averaged about 0.5, it now calculates that they have ranged from 0.9 to 1.7 since the Great Recession.  Continue reading “A review of the recent literature on fiscal multipliers: size matters!”

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