Sunday, June 20, 2010

Keynesian perspectives last week

Krugman explains "That 30's Feeling": “Many economists, myself included, regard this turn to austerity as a huge mistake. It raises memories of 1937, when F.D.R.’s premature attempt to balance the budget helped plunge a recovering economy back into severe recession.”

Robert Skidelsky is not happy with the British government’s decision to slash spending and asks "Who governs?" : financial markets or government. “ These propositions are a re-run of the famous “Treasury view” of 1929. By contrast, Keynes argued that demand can fall short of supply, and that when this happened, government vice turned into virtue. In a slump, governments should increase, not reduce, their deficits to make up for the deficit in private spending. Any attempt by government to increase its saving (in other words, to balance its budget) would only worsen the slump. This was his “paradox of thrift”. The current stampede to thrift shows that the re-conversion to Keynes in the wake of the financial collapse of 2008 was only skin-deep: the first story remains deeply lodged in the minds of economists and politicians.”

Krugman wonders why Greenspan is regretting that deficits have not yet increased interest rates. Krugman explains: “deficits in the face of a liquidity trap don’t drive up interest rates and don’t cause inflation — lends credence to the Keynesian view.”