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Paul Krugman - The austerity delusion

Paul Krugman - The austerity delusion
As Oxford’s Simon Wren-Lewis noted, on the very same day that the Centre for Macroeconomics revealed that the great majority of British economists disagree with the proposition that austerity is good for growth, the Telegraph published on its front page a letter from 100 business leaders declaring the opposite. Why does big business love austerity and hate Keynesian economics? After all, you might expect corporate leaders to want policies that produce strong sales and hence strong profits. I’ve already suggested one answer: scare talk about debt and deficits is often used as a cover for a very different agenda, namely an attempt to reduce the overall size of government and especially spending on social insurance. This has been transparently obvious in the United States, where many supposed deficit-reduction plans just happen to include sharp cuts in tax rates on corporations and the wealthy even as they take away healthcare and nutritional aid for the poor. Why this weakness?

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IMF: Austerity is much worse for the economy than we thought Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund made a striking admission in its new World Economic Outlook. The IMF's chief economist, Olivier Blanchard, explained that recent efforts among wealthy countries to shrink their deficits — through tax hikes and spending cuts — have been causing far more economic damage than experts had assumed. Austerity's none too popular in Spain these days. (AP)

Republican ‘Abstinence-Only’ Crusader’s 17-Year-Old Daughter Is Pregnant A Republican lawmaker who promoted legislation to teach “abstinence-only” sex education in schools announced that his own unmarried high school-aged daughter has gotten pregnant. Bill Cassidy, a state Senator from Louisiana released a statement to announcing that he was to be a grandfather and expressing his support for his daughter during this “challenging” time: “Earlier this year, Laura and I learned we will become grandparents this summer. Our children have been the greatest blessing of our lives and we welcome our grandchild as a joyous addition to our family. How to think about Islamic State Violence has erupted across a broad swath of territory in recent months: wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, suicide bombings in Xinjiang, Nigeria and Turkey, insurgencies from Yemen to Thailand, massacres in Paris, Tunisia and the American south. Future historians may well see such uncoordinated mayhem as commencing the third – and the longest and the strangest – of world wars. Certainly, forces larger and more complex than in the previous two wars are at work; they outrun our capacity to apprehend them, let alone adjust their direction to our benefit. The early post cold war consensus – that bourgeois democracy has solved the riddle of history, and a global capitalist economy will usher in worldwide prosperity and peace – lies in tatters.

The BBC's dumb public: a view from Greece The BBC’s ‘election worm’. Screengrab. I’m one of over five million Britons living abroad, and will cast my postal vote from Athens. Like so many ‘expats’ - immigrants by another name - I have become far more dependent on the BBC than I was when living in London. My tendency to turn to the state broadcaster as the ‘voice of the nation’ disturbs me already, yet it is even more peculiar when the BBC’s own election coverage is so entirely obsessed with representing the opinions of the ever-mythical ‘British public’. The Real Reason Mothers Are So Tired “Are you just sore all of the time?” I asked my husband last night, poking him on the shoulder. “Like here, when I touch it, does it just hurt?” “No,” he replied, slowly and carefully, as if he was talking to a clueless child.

This Ludicrous New Instrument Makes Music with 2,000 Marbles Swedish musician Martin Molin has long had experience with esoteric instruments like the glockenspiel, traktofon, or Theremin, but he may have topped his musical prowess with the invention of his own new instrument: the Wintergatan Marble Machine, a hand-cranked music box loaded with instruments including a circuit of 2,000 cascading steel marbles. As the devices cycles it activates a vibraphone, bass, kick drum, cymbal and other instruments that play a score programmed into a 32 bar loop comprised of LEGO technic parts. The marbles are moved internally through the machine using funnels, pulleys, and tubes. Molin began work on the marble machine in August 2014 and hoped to spend about two months on the project. Its complexity soon spiraled out of control as all 3,000 internal parts had to be designed and fabricated by hand, a time-consuming process that eventually took 14 months.

Labour overspending did not trigger financial crash, says senior civil servant The permanent secretary to the Treasury, Sir Nicholas Macpherson, has argued that the 2008 financial crisis was “a banking crisis pure and simple”, contradicting Conservative claims that it was caused by Labour overspending. His surprising remarks come after Ed Miliband came under pressure on a leader’s question time debate last week that Labour government had overspent, a view strengthened by the now notorious letter left by the former treasury chief secretary Liam Byrne to his successor in 2010 that there was “no money left”. In a largely challenging review of Mr Osborne’s Economic Experiment, a book by the Observer economics columnist William Keegan, Macpherson wrote: “Some of Keegan’s book resonates. The 2008 crisis was a banking crisis pure and simple. Excessive risk had built up in the system; the regulators failed to appreciate the scale of that risk or to address it.

Governing by Obstinance in Kansas The finances of the county, the city and the school district I live in are now entirely trapped in a fight for the last tax dollar many are able to part with over the rush to create a libertarian utopia. Sam Brownback’s folly to ‘untax’ the wealthy and corporations have shifted the entire burden of managing the state's finances directly on the backs of the middle and lower class populations of Kansas. Now that the state is unable to spread the wealth of northeastern Kansas to the more rural portions of Kansas, it will be up to the individual counties, cities and school districts to raise their own funds in any manner they can. The “Clean for the Queen” campaign is Tory Britain at its worst Forelocks at the ready, peasants. It’s time to Clean for the Queen. In honour of Her Majesty’s birthday, Tory politicians and major retailers have come together to encourage all good citizens to clean up their neighborhoods next weekend. Around the country, purple billboards, formatted in the style of those cloyingly awful “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters, urge the underclass to “spruce up your streets! vacuum your villages!”