Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Paul Krugman writes a long-overdue obituary for the confidence fairy who was supposed to turn needless austerity into growth contrary to all economic evidence:
So, about that doctrine: appeals to the wonders of confidence are something Herbert Hoover would have found completely familiar — and faith in the confidence fairy has worked out about as well for modern Europe as it did for Hoover’s America. All around Europe’s periphery, from Spain to Latvia, austerity policies have produced Depression-level slumps and Depression-level unemployment; the confidence fairy is nowhere to be seen, not even in Britain, whose turn to austerity two years ago was greeted with loud hosannas by policy elites on both sides of the Atlantic.

None of this should come as news, since the failure of austerity policies to deliver as promised has long been obvious. Yet European leaders spent years in denial, insisting that their policies would start working any day now, and celebrating supposed triumphs on the flimsiest of evidence. Notably, the long-suffering (literally) Irish have been hailed as a success story not once but twice, in early 2010 and again in the fall of 2011. Each time the supposed success turned out to be a mirage; three years into its austerity program, Ireland has yet to show any sign of real recovery from a slump that has driven the unemployment rate to almost 15 percent.


But while the confidence fairy appears to be well and truly buried, deficit scare stories remain popular. Indeed, defenders of British policies dismiss any call for a rethinking of these policies, despite their evident failure to deliver, on the grounds that any relaxation of austerity would cause borrowing costs to soar.

So we’re now living in a world of zombie economic policies — policies that should have been killed by the evidence that all of their premises are wrong, but which keep shambling along nonetheless. And it’s anyone’s guess when this reign of error will end.

- Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher report on Elections Canada's continued efforts to track down the source of the best-known calls behind the Robocon scandal.

- One might think this is going too far on the secrecy front. But by the Cons' standards, isn't it only prudent to shred sports memorabilia just in case it doesn't support the conclusions in Stephen Harper's long-promised hockey book?

- Meanwhile, Tabatha Southey's form letter of apology should make for an important addition to the Cons' set of public relations tools.

- The Vancouver Observer highlights the foreign funding provided to the Fraser Institute by the Koch brothers.

- Finally, Robin Sears theorizes that Canada has added tolerance and diversity to its traditional values of peace, order and good government.

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