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‘Austerity isn’t working’ – economists tell EU


9:28 am - May 21st 2012

by Newswire    


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European leaders pushing austerity as the solution to the current economic crisis are guilty of “bad economics, bad arithmetic and ignoring the lessons of history,” according to a pamphlet by eleven eminent economists and social scientists.

Be Outraged calls for a new economic approach including government action to promote growth and transform the financial sector from a “bad master to good servant”, and is published today by Oxfam.

It also calls for a tax on financial transactions (also known as a Tobin or Robin Hood tax) to control speculation and act as a valuable source of revenue.

It is published two days before Europe’s leaders meet to discuss ways to boost growth across the continent amid fresh economic and political chaos in Greece.

Its authors include Sir Richard Jolly, a former UN assistant secretary general, Stephany Griffith-Jones, Financial Markets Director, Initiative for Policy Dialogue of Columbia University and Frances Stewart of Oxford University.

It identifies a number of related problems that need urgent action:

– Unemployment: More than 10 per cent of European adults are unemployed, up by 50 per cent since 2008. More than one in five- 22% – youth under 25 are unemployed and in some countries over 40%

– Women: Cuts in public spending usually leave women to pick up the pieces and children to bear the brunt. It is counter-productive to sacrifice their rights and support in the name of credibility in financial markets

– Inequality: Top incomes have soared in the UK and US especially: the globe’s richest 1 per cent (61 million people) earn the same as the poorest 56 per cent (3.5 billion);

– Lack of international support for global recovery: Action – including the fiscal stimulus – agreed at the 2009 G20 in London restored recovery for a year, helping global growth reach 4 per cent in 2010. A new stimulus and renewed coordination is badly needed now;

– Finance: the sector should serve the needs of the real economy and help manage and mitigate risk. For the past two decades it has done neither.

Be Outraged was inspired by ‘Indignez-vous’, a multi-million best-seller written by Stephane Hessel, former member of the French resistance and endorsed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

A copy of the report is available at www.oxfam.org.uk/policyandpractice

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Reader comments


1. Luis Enrique

what the f is Oxfam doing producing this?

What austerity?
Most governments are still spending more than they take in, expanding the public debts: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/uk-budget-what-cuts/

@2 Andreas Moser

Departmental spending in the UK fell last year for the first time since 1955.

Those cuts.

Aggregating the costs of the crisis in the way you do – ie. spending has risen because we’re spending more on unemployment benefits and debt interest 0 is totally transparent and disingenuous.

It also implies that for some unfathomable reason you think more cuts are going to deliver something different to the absolute disaster already caused by the prospect of those cuts.

Which is a barking mad position to take, quite frankly.

@3. BenM

Arguments like “what cuts?” baffle me too. There’s been a lot of the use of the word ‘savings’ over the last 12 months or so too. However, I’m not sure how there can be be savings in a particular area if money isn’t actually being withheld from that area.

Maybe a more accurate or honest term would be ‘diversions’, acknowledging that big money is indeed being spent but we need to know where it all goes, who it all goes to and why it goes to them.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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