Must-Read: Simon Wren-Lewis: Politically Impossible

Must-Read: The writer, BTW, is Chris Giles. In light of this, does the almost-always excellent Financial Times have a significant quality-control problem here?

Simon Wren-Lewis: Politically Impossible: “An article in the Financial Times recently said of me…

…‘He has opposed deficit reduction when the economy was weak and when it was strong.’ Ah yes, this would be the same economist who has suggested the left aims to reduce the current deficit (all current spending less revenue) to zero, that pre-crisis fiscal policy in the Euro periphery should have been much more contractionary, and has championed fiscal councils as a way of eliminating deficit bias.

Should I have demanded a retraction? I didn’t: life is short, maybe it was a kind of joke, or even a misprint, and if not perhaps it said more about the writer than it did about me…. Equally it makes no sense obsessing about the need to reduce deficits in a recession and then turning a blind eye when surpluses are spent in a boom. Unfortunately just that kind of inconsistent thinking became hard-wired in the form of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), with its focus on a limit of 3% for deficits. Those who say that all that was wrong with the SGP is that it was not enforced have learnt nothing. This is why we need to move influence away from the Commission and towards independent national fiscal councils.


Brad DeLong
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