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Austerity has never worked

by Ha-Joon Chang Thursday, Jun. 07, 2012 at 3:34 AM
mbatko1@hotmail.com

It’s not just about the current economic environment. History shows that slashing budgets always leads to recession [...]

"As for the need to cut social spending to revive growth, there is no historical evidence to support it either. From 1945 to 1990, per capita income in Europe grew considerably faster than in the US, despite its countries having welfare states on average a third larger than that of the US. Even after 1990, when European growth slowed down, countries like Sweden and Finland, with much larger welfare spending, grew faster than the US.
As for the belief that making life easier for the rich through tax cuts and deregulation is good for investment and growth, we need to remind ourselves that this was tried in many countries after 1980, with very poor results. Compared to the previous three decades of higher taxes and stronger regulation, investment (as a proportion of GDP) and economic growth fell in those countries. Also, the world economy in the 19th century grew much more slowly than in the high-tax, high-regulation era of 1945-80, despite the fact that taxes were much lower (most countries didn’t even have income tax) and regulation thinner on the ground.
The argument on hiring and firing is also not grounded in historical evidence. Unemployment rates in the major capitalist economies were between 0% (some years in Switzerland) and 4% from 1945-80, despite increasing labour market regulation. There were more jobless people during the 19th century, when there was effectively no regulation on hiring and firing."

to read the article by Ha-Joon Chang published in: The Guardian, June 4, 2012, click on

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/04/austerity-policy-eurozone-crisis/print
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