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Europe’s Lost Keynesians

There is no magic Keynesian bullet for the eurozone’s woes, despite what many commentators and much of the public seem to believe. The eurozone’s difficulties stem from European financial and monetary integration having gotten too far ahead of actual political, fiscal, and banking union – not exactly a problem that Keynes tried to address.

CAMBRIDGE – There is no magic Keynesian bullet for the eurozone’s woes. But the spectacularly muddle-headed argument nowadays that too much austerity is killing Europe is not surprising. Commentators are consumed by politics, flailing away at any available target, while the “anti-austerity” masses apparently believe that there are easy cyclical solutions to tough structural problems.

The eurozone’s difficulties, I have long argued, stem from European financial and monetary integration having gotten too far ahead of actual political, fiscal, and banking union. This is not a problem with which Keynes was familiar, much less one that he sought to address.

Above all, any realistic strategy for dealing with the eurozone crisis must involve massive write-downs (forgiveness) of peripheral countries’ debt. These countries’ massive combined bank and government debt – the distinction everywhere in Europe has become blurred – makes rapid sustained growth a dream.

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