Thursday, May 26, 2011

Failure of Austerity in Europe? What Does the Latvian Exception Prove?

Writing in The New York Times this week, Paul Krugman argues that austerity has failed in Europe. Budget cuts and tax increases were supposed to provide the confidence needed to get troubled EU economies back on track, but the "confidence fairy" hasn't shown up. Austerity has not just failed to work, says Krugman—it has made matters worse. He shares the view, held almost universally outside official circles, that doubling down on austerity will not save Greece, Ireland and Portugal from eventual default in one form or another.

Meanwhile, there is the case of Latvia, where a stringent austerity program, supported by the EU and the IMF, predates those of Greece, Ireland, and Portugal. Austerity brought on a stunning 18 percent drop in Latvian GDP in 2009, but now the country is returning to growth. Unemployment and the budget deficit are still high, but falling. Is Latvia the exception that proves that austerity is a good idea after all?

→Read the full post on Ed Dolan's Econ Blog at

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