Washington Post: Europe Is Stuck In a “Greater Depression”

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The Washington Post’s Wonkblog reports:

Europe hasn’t recovered, because it hasn’t let itself. Too much fiscal austerity and too little monetary stimulus have, instead, put it more than halfway to a lost decade that’s already worse than the 1930s.

 

It’s a greater depression.

 

And as the latest GDP numbers show, it’s not getting any less so. Indeed, the eurozone as a whole didn’t grow at all in the second quarter. Neither did France, whose economy has actually been flat for a year now. Germany’s economy fell 0.2 percent from the previous quarter—and that after revisions revealed it had quietly gone through a double-dip recession in early 2013. Though that’s still much better than Italy: Its GDP also fell 0.2 percent, but its triple-dip recession has now wiped out all growth since 2000. The closest thing approximating good news was that Spain’s dead-cat bounce recovery continued with 0.6 percent growth. But it still has 24.5 percent unemployment.

 

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But it’s a little misleading to just call this a depression. It’s worse than that. Europe is turning Japanese. The combination of zombie banks, a rapidly aging population and, most importantly, too-tight money have pushed it into a “lowflationary” trap that makes it hard to grow, and is even harder to escape from.

We agree with the diagnosis, but not the cure …

Diagnosis-wise, we noted last year that the British economy is worse than during the Great Depression.

But the “austerity” versus “stimulus” debate is a false dichotomy.    If a patient is bleeding out, doctors have to suture the wounds before they decide whether to give more blood or to taper off the amount of transfusions.

But Europe has never treated the wounds …  As we noted in 2011, failing to prosecute financial fraud – on either side of the Atlantic – is extending the economic crisis.

In 2012, we pointed out that European (and American) governments were encouraging bank manipulation and fraud to cover up insolvency … trying to put lipstick on a pig.

Indeed:

  • Quantitative easing hurts the economy. Even the Bank of England and the creators of QE admit that it is "pushing on a string".  But the UK did tons of QE instead of actually fixing the economy

Heck of a job, guys ...