Paul Krugman: Eurovillains


Eurovillains, by Paul Krugman, in NY Times: It took bad thinking and bad policy by many players to get us into the state we’re in; rarely in the course of human events have so many worked so hard to do so much damage. But if I had to identify the players who really let us down the most, I think I’d point to European institutions that lent totally spurious intellectual credibility to the Pain Caucus. Specifically:

– The OECD, which a year ago demanded both fiscal austerity and a sharp rise in interest rates, because, well, because. Recently the OECD surveyed Britain, concluded that inflation is likely to decline, unemployment to rise, and that the UK should therefore … continue with fiscal austerity and raise rates. As a correspondent wrote, “What planet are they living on? What planet am I living on?”

– The ECB, which bought totally into the doctrine of expansionary austerity, despite overwhelming evidence that it was false, and proceeded to raise rates in the face of a deeply depressed economy — possibly the straw that breaks the euro’s back.

– The BIS, which called for tighter monetary policy just three months ago, to fight a nonexistent inflationary threat. Did I mention that inflation expectations, as measured by the difference between yields on ordinary and index bonds, have been plunging like a stone?

I haven’t developed a full theory of the sociology going on here. But these organizations should be doing some agonized soul-searching, asking how they got it so wrong while posing as high priests of economic expertise.

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