Paul Krugman’s conviction that he has the answer to recession is almost comforting. “I’m right, they’re all wrong,” is a time-honoured declaration by brilliant analysts at arm’s length from power, admirable for its courage if not for its modesty (on that note, see the storm of responses to Richard Dawkins. Krugman’s attack on the policies of the United States, much of Europe, and in particular George Osborne, also reflects his fury at the human cost of unemployment because of a slump that he argues is unnecessary.
He’s right to remind the world of those costs, and right beyond question about the stakes. How to prompt growth in the struggling economies of the “rich” world is the great debate of these years, and the cause of bitter ideological division. To some, Krugman’s prescription that governments should spend now to restore growth and sort out their finances later seems like a way out of the nightmare of trying to persuade voters to support cuts. To others, it merely adds to the problem.