01 Mar 2010

Bloomberg Writer Blasts British Keynesianism

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This is a pretty uppity article by Matthew Lynn on Bloomberg (HT2 Jeff Tucker):

The U.K. has been in Keynes overdrive for the past 18 months. The budget deficit is already more than 12 percent of gross domestic product, on a par with Greece. And while the Greeks are cutting spending, the British deficit is widening. Figures for January showed another fiscal blowout. At the same time, interest rates have been slashed to 0.5 percent. And the pound has slumped in value, which is supposed to boost demand for British goods, and help close the trade gap.

Just about everything possible has been done to encourage consumption. The results have been miserable.

Retail sales excluding gasoline in January fell 1.2 percent from the previous month, twice as much as economists forecast. The number of people receiving unemployment benefits jumped to 1.64 million in January, the highest level since April 1997. The yield on U.K. government debt is now higher than on Spanish or Italian bonds, a sure sign that investors are losing faith in the country’s ability to pay its debts. The inflation rate has also accelerated to 3.5 percent.

Triple Whammy

In reality, Britain has the worst of all possible worlds: a stagnant economy, a crippling budget deficit and rising prices.

The Keynesian consensus is that things would have been far worse without the stimulus provided by government. And if the economy isn’t pumped up with inflated demand, it will collapse back into recession. If it’s not working, that just proves the stimulus should be even larger.

It is the argument quacks always push: If the medicine isn’t working, increase the dosage.

3 Responses to “Bloomberg Writer Blasts British Keynesianism”

  1. Galen Sher says:

    Bob, what's your take on this article? Is it a fair assessment?

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  3. Doc Merlin says:

    People should listen to Robert Baro: fiscal stimulus actually lowers consumption and investment.