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Alfredo Calcagno

). Accordingly, advanced economies committed themselves to quantitative targets for reducing fiscal deficits (by 2013) and public debt-to-GDP ratios (by 2016). Austerity became the watchword. 2 THE GARDEN OF FORKING PATHS Economic policy was at a crossroads, as policymakers had to choose between two options: to sustain the still modest and fragile economic recovery with expansionary policies that should promote employment; or to undertake fiscal adjustment to cope with public deficits and debt levels viewed as excessively high that could undermine the confidence of financial

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Thomas J. Schoenbaum

7 Assaulting austerity FISCAL AUSTERITY—THE STATUS QUO “L’Amérique a perdu de sa superbe”—America has lost some of its magnificence—said noted author Francis Fukuyama to an interviewer from Le Monde magazine in September 2011. As 2011 came to a close, the US economic growth rate was an anemic 1.8 percent (barely keeping pace with population growth) and is predicted to be about the same in 2012. On 1 March 2012, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke warned that weak economic growth and high unemployment will be the “new normal” for years to come in the United States.1 As

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Laurence Seidman

Keynesians know that on election day in November 2008, as the US financial and economic crisis deepened, the United States tottered on the brink of a second great depression. Who would control the US government for the next two years: advocates of stimulus or advocates of austerity? In this article ‘austerity’ means no fiscal stimulus, no financial rescues, and immediate cuts in government spending. If advocates of austerity had won either a simple majority of the House of Representatives, or more than 40 percent of the US Senate (enough to defeat any legislation

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Finance in an Age of Austerity

The Power of Customer-owned Banks

Johnston Birchall

This is a book in search of an alternative to the discredited investor-owned banks that have brought the rich countries into crisis and the world economy into a long period of austerity. It finds customer-owned banks – credit unions, co-operative banks, building societies – have hardly been affected by the crisis and continue to operate according to their organisational DNA: low-risk, close to the customer, underpinned by real savings, and still lending to SMEs to protect jobs and local economies. They are big business – in some countries with over 40% of the market – but networked in smaller, democratic societies whose origins go back to 1850s Germany.
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Pär Nyman

5.  T he political challenge of austerity politics Pär Nyman INTRODUCTION In the countries most affected by the Great Recession, public finances had developed structural weaknesses well before the crisis hit. The fiscal situation in countries such as Greece, Italy, and Portugal, and the austerity policies that have followed in its wake, have had dramatic consequences. To a clearly higher degree than countries with stronger public finances, these countries have seen rising unemployment, increasing poverty, and deteriorating public services. Moreover, economic and

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Gennaro Zezza

that Euro institutions were unable to address the Greek crisis appropriately, the possibility of other countries defaulting under stress – notably Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain – was put into question, and interest rates on the debt of these countries started to rise, exacerbating the problem of abiding to the Maastricht criteria. Forgetting the origins of the crisis, leading Eurozone institutions then suggested that an even stricter adherence to the criteria of fiscal austerity, balanced budget and low public debt would be the solution to the debt crisis

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Hassan Bougrine and Louis-Philippe Rochon

6. Austerity, unemployment and poverty in developing countries Hassan Bougrine and Louis-Philippe Rochon 1. INTRODUCTION One of the most authoritative explanations of the role of government spending in stimulating the economy comes from Keynes’s interpretation of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Keynes (1936) argued that policymakers had worsened the crisis when they failed to increase public spending to compensate for the fall in aggregate demand, choosing instead to balance the budget in the midst of a slump (see Skidelsky, 1970; Skidelsky and Kennedy, 2010

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Bent Greve

Austerity, Retrenchment and the Welfare State 1. Austerity and the welfare state: an introduction 1.1 INTRODUCTION Austerity and retrenchment are some of the words that have been used extensively in the public debate as well as in the academic literature on the development of welfare states during the last few years. They were first mainly used in the context of the consequences of the economic crisis in the 1970s of stagnation and inflation. Expressed among other things from the OECD publication on The Welfare State in Crisis (OECD 1981), among

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Social Policies in an Age of Austerity

A Comparative Analysis of the US and Korea

Edited by John Karl Scholz, Hyungypo Moon and Sang-Hyup Lee

Social Policies in an Age of Austerity is the first major publication on the topic, with a particular interest in the United States and the Republic of Korea. The authors of the ten chapters in this book review recent developments in social policies in OECD countries, with a focus on achieving greater effectiveness in public spending on social programs, under increasingly tight national budgets. The contributions cover social and fiscal policy and issues in labor market policy, in addition to the effectiveness of social insurance, education and antipoverty policy.
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Bent Greve

Austerity, Retrenchment and the Welfare State 6. Has there been austerity within the pension system? 6.1 INTRODUCTION How to cope with the so-called ageing of societies due to the ongoing demographic transition in most welfare states as a consequence of fewer new-born babies has been discussed for a long time. The change in the composition of the population has thus pointed towards more people in old age. This has implications for the welfare states, given that a large part of the spending has been related to income transfers within the pension