Friday, 5 March 2010

Greece is a harbinger of austerity for all

"..To many of you, this might have been obvious for some time. But there remained a deluded belief that governments and central banks could magic away the crisis, or at least save us from its worst consequences. ..Two events this week have highlighted that, despite a stimulus of unprecedented proportions and scope, they cannot. ...Policymakers are desperate to unwind the “unconventional support”, to activate “exit strategies” and begin the long march back to normality. But there is still little sign of the sustained private-sector recovery required to take up the slack. ...A year on, and the roof plainly hasn’t fallen in. There has been a severe economic contraction, but unemployment hasn’t climbed to anywhere near the levels predicted, asset and commodity prices have rebounded strongly, and because of record low interest rates, many are feeling better off than they were. Those seeking an explanation of why the Conservatives aren’t faring better in the polls need look no further: over the past year, Britain has had what amounts to the biggest pre-election giveaway of all time. ...Sadly, the necessary structural reforms must begin with our unsustainable pension and healthcare costs. Which means that working longer and saving more will become the defining mantras of the next decade.

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