Speed Reads

econ 101

Everything that's wrong with the global economy, in one sentence

On the off-chance that you've taken a second to peep out of your anti-Ebola bunker to check out other goings-on in the world, you might have noticed that stock markets have been taking a dive over new concerns about the global economy. Actually, they are not very new at all; they are the same old concerns that have dogged the global economy since the 2008 meltdown in the financial industry. It has reached the point that some analysts are saying that Europe, the main source of worry, is entering the "third phase" of its economic crisis.

So what's going on? The New York Times today reports that European countries are finally rebelling against the strict austerity agenda (i.e., severe spending cuts and tax hikes) that has long been imposed by Germany, which has caused unemployment rates to spike across the continent and years of untold economic suffering. In other words, what we are seeing isn't some fundamental weakness in the economy, but a self-imposed disaster, one that has echoes, albeit fainter ones, here in the United States. As the economist Jared Bernstein writes, "The problem is political, not economic."

That means that the solution is also political. As many observers have noted, including my colleagues at The Week, the West can start by finally exorcising its austerity demons.