Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Euroskpetic...

...has found my home state of Illinois wanting. The balance points he refers to in this article are precisely the kind that will not, cannot, be properly calibrated by government. He is right to point out the abusurdity of 80% of G8 GDP believing external growth will be the panacea for their own economic woes.

Of course, this will infuriate the EOTers and inflation doomsters as the process of resolving debt deflation is long, complex, anti-climactic, and is more T.S. Eliot than Tennyson.

This is not to pick on America. Belt-tightening is the oppressive fact of 2010-2012 for half the world. Hungary, Ukraine, the Baltics and the Balkans are already under the knife. Latvia's economy may contract by 30pc from peak to trough as it carries out an "internal devaluation", ie wage cuts, to hold its euro peg.

The eurozone's fiscal squeeze is well advanced in Ireland. Brussels has told Greece to cut by 10pc of GDP in three years, Spain by 8pc, Portugal by 6pc. Britain must slash soon, or face a gilts strike.

The Bank for International Settlements says Britain needs a primary surplus of 5.8pc of GDP for a decade to stabilise debt at pre-crisis levels, given the ageing crunch as well. The figure is 6.4pc for Japan, 4.3pc for the US and France. It warns of "unstable dynamics", posh talk for a debt spiral. "Action is needed now."

Indeed, though cutting too fast would tip the West back into slump and kill tax revenues, solving nothing – a risk that austerity priests rarely acknowledge. Pacing is everything.

Mervyn King, the Bank of England's Governor, seems strangely alone in facing the implications of this for central banks, and in seeing the absurdity of a recovery strategy where everybody tightens at once and surplus states keep on dumping excess capacity abroad. "I was struck by the mood at the G7, where several of the major economies around the world said quite openly that they were relying on external demand growth to generate growth. That can't be true of everybody," he said.

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