Posts Tagged ‘austerity’

GREECE-ECONOMY-PROTEST

Simon Wren-Lewis starts with “the real damage that austerity has had on people’s lives” and then explains how “Austerity is a trap for the left as long as they refuse to challenge it.”

You cannot say that you will spend more doing worthwhile things, and when (inevitably) asked how you will pay for it try and change the subject. Voters may not be experts on economics, but they can sense weakness and vulnerability. If instead you restrict yourself to changes at the margin, you appear to be ‘just the same’.

The problem, of course, is that austerity is still inflicting its damage, especially in Greece, which is why workers, farmers, and others have taken to the streets in that country in recent days.

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It’s mostly flown under the radar, at least in the United States. But, in Portugal, the ruling austerity coalition, Portugal Ahead, lost its parliamentary majority in yesterday’s election.

Meanwhile, the Left Bloc, the sister party of Greece’s anti-austerity Syriza, looks to be on course for its best-ever result of 10.2 percent of the vote and 19 seats, up from its previous score of eight.

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We often associate austerity with the economic policies imposed in Europe, especially Greece, since the crash of 2007-08.

However, as the chart above demonstrates (from the Wall Street Journal), the United States has pursued its own version of austerity in the years since the Great Recession began in late 2007. Total state, local and federal government spending, adjusted for inflation, shrank 3.3 percent since the beginning of the recession, compared with an average increase of 23.5 percent over comparable periods in past postwar expansions.

And, of course, the effects of such austerity have been unevenly distributed across the population, with large corporations and wealthy individuals gaining and everyone else finding themselves on the losing end.

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Blu, Thessaloniki (24 October 2011)

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