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Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea

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  • Blyth, Mark

    (Brown University)

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    Abstract

    Conservatives in America have succeeded in casting government spending as useless profligacy that has made their economy worse, centering the policy debate in the wake of the financial crisis on draconian budget cuts. Americans are told that they need to live in an age of austerity since they have all lived beyond their means and now need to tighten their belts. This view conveniently forgets where all that debt came from. Not from an orgy of government spending, but as the direct result of bailing out, recapitalizing, and adding liquidity to the broken banking system. Through these actions private debt was rechristened as government debt while those responsible for generating it walked away scot free, placing the blame on the state, and the burden on the taxpayer. That burden now takes the form of a global turn to austerity, the policy of reducing domestic wages and prices to restore competitiveness and balance the budget. The problem, according to political economist Mark Blyth, is that austerity is a very dangerous idea. First of all, it doesn't work. As the past two years of trying and countless other historical examples show, while it makes sense for any one state to try and cut its way to growth, it simply cannot work when all states try it simultaneously: all that happens is a shrinking economy. Second, it relies upon those who didn't make the mess to clean it up, which is always bad politics. Third, it rests upon a tenuous and thin body of evidence and argumentation that acts more to prop up dead economic ideas and preserve astonishingly skewed income and wealth distributions than to restore prosperity for all. In Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, Blyth demolishes the conventional wisdom, marshaling an army of facts to demand that we recognize austerity for what it is, and what it costs us.

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    Bibliographic Info

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    This book is provided by Oxford University Press in its series OUP Catalogue with number 9780199828302 and published in 2013.

    ISBN: 9780199828302
    Order: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199828302.do
    Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780199828302

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    Cited by:
    1. Lina Gálvez, 2013. "Una lectura feminista del austericidio," Revista de Economía Crítica, Asociación de Economía Crítica, vol. 15, pages 80-110.
    2. Nedergaard, Peter, 2013. "The Influence of Ordoliberalism in European Integration Processes - A Framework for Ideational Influence with Competition Policy and the Economic and Monetary Policy as Examples," MPRA Paper 52331, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Lukas Hakelberg, 2014. "The Power Politics of International Tax Cooperation. Why Luxembourg and Austria accepted automatic exchange of information on foreign account holders’ interest income," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers p0375, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
    4. Niamh Hardiman, 2013. "Rethinking the political economy of fiscal consolidation in two recessions in Ireland," Working Papers 201316, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    5. Deborah Mabbett & Waltraud Schelkle, 2014. "Searching under the lamp-post: the evolution of fiscal surveillance," LEQS – LSE 'Europe in Question' Discussion Paper Series 75, European Institute, LSE.
    6. Sebastian Dellepiane & Niamh Hardiman, 2013. "The politics of fiscal effort in Spain and Ireland: Market credibility versus political legitimacy," Working Papers 201321, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    7. Vera van Hüllen, 2013. "Political Legitimacy in a Non-optimal Currency Area," KFG Working Papers p0052, Free University Berlin.
    8. C. J. Polychroniou, 2014. "Dead Economic Dogmas Trump Recovery: The Continuing Crisis in the Eurozone Periphery," Economics Public Policy Brief Archive ppb_133, Levy Economics Institute.
    9. Deborah Mabbett & Waltraud Schelkle, 2014. "Searching under the lamp-post: the evolution of fiscal surveillance," Europe in Question Discussion Paper Series of the London School of Economics (LEQs) 5, London School of Economics / European Institute.

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