There Are at Least Two Schools of Thought About How to Stimulate Growth, But Only One Appears in the NYT

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Friday, 10 December 2010 06:30

The statement about "at least two schools" is a quote in an NYT article from Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. However, one will look in vein in this article for anything other than the view from Mr. Westerwelle that:

"People used to think that it would be the next generation that would some day have to deal with the issue of public debts. ... And now everybody is surprised that it doesn’t take that long, that it hits us now in the shape of the ever increasing price of credits."

One alternative view is that unnecessarily tight monetary policy in the wake of the collapse of housing bubbles across Europe and the United States is forcing unnecessary austerity on Ireland, Spain, and other European countries. Proponents of this position point out that these countries are not suffering from a shortage of labor and capital, but rather a lack of demand.

This means that if the European Central Bank and/or national governments stimulated these economies by creating additional demand, this demand could easily be met without inflation. From this perspective, the imposition of austerity is simply pointless pain. Furthermore, the people who bear the brunt of the suffering are ordinary workers, not the bankers whose greed fueled the bubbles or the incompetent central bankers and other policymakers who allowed the housing bubbles to grow to such dangerous levels.