Friday, December 23, 2011

Economics:  The 10 Worst Economic Ideas of 2011

2. Austerity works.

Is it conceivable that we have learned nothing from history -- or from economic theory, for that matter? It is hard to believe that after a year or so of the momentary return of Keynesianism in the wake of the deep recession of 2007-2009, it has been utterly renounced in practice in most rich nations around the world. The U.S. refuses to adopt a new fiscal stimulus as fears of a long-term deficit now determine short-term policy.

The eurozone's decision makers are even more obtuse and dangerous. Germany is leading the pack by imposing harsh limits on deficits as a percent of GDP on member states, which is sure to lead to slow growth and probably growing deficits. In the near term, the refusal to restructure the debt of the southern periphery along with demands for harsh austerity there could lead to a break-up of the eurozone and general catastrophe.


IMF economists have recently produced solid research putting the lie to claims that austerity has led to rapid growth in some countries in the past. It almost never has, and in the couple of cases it has, it was because the countries devalued their currencies sharply to promote exports. Of course, there will be no devaluations in the eurozone.

7. The Medicare eligibility age should be raised.

Reports had it that President Obama had momentarily agreed to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67. Indeed, a New York Times editorial recently seemed (a little less than wholeheartedly) to endorse the idea. Yes, this might reduce Medicare expenditures, but it would raise the total amount Americans spend on health care. In fact, the Kaiser Family Foundation figures it would increase private health care costs for most of the seniors leaving Medicare by more than $2,000 a year on average. There would be other cost-raising effects, as, for example, healthier seniors left Medicare. Kaiser figures the increase in total health spending by Americans would be twice the amount of savings to Medicare. And of course some seniors would simply give up coverage. Call it triage.

For more, see The 10 Worst Economic Ideas of 2011 by Jeff Madrick, December 22, 2011 at The Huffington Post.

1 comment:

W Scott said...

the issue is what politicians will implement the bad ideas, not just that they are bad