Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hans-Werner Sinn makes nice with Lord Keynes (but not really)

Hans-Werner Sinn, a leading conservative economist in Germany, apparently thinks conditions are such that he at least needs to say something nice about John Maynard Keynes in Economics and Its Critics Project Syndicate 01/13/2015:

Another malady that economists sometimes diagnose might be called “Keynes disease.” If demand is too weak, it can lead to a sharp drop in employment (because wages and prices are rigid in the short term). The disease can be cured with injections of public, debt-financed stimulus – like giving a cardiac patient doses of nitroglycerine to keep his heart going.

Contrary to what many think, there is no fundamental bias against this medicine in mainstream economics today. But stimulus cannot be seen as a universal remedy. Many ailments that may afflict an economy are chronic, not acute, and thus call for other types of treatment. Trying Keynesian therapy to resolve, say, the structural problems currently affecting the countries of southern Europe would be like trying to cure a broken leg with heart medicine.
In other words, Keynes is very nice and all. We just would wouldn't want to take his advice seriously in the most urgent kind of situation for which it is most appropriate.

Awesome. Austerity forever!

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