Former Center for American Progress staffer and former President of the Oxford Student Union Will Straw — son of Jack, the UK’s former Foreign Minister — returned home to London last year and kicked of the daily policy brief Left Foot Forward.
Left Foot Forward acknowledges Think Progress, affiliated with the Center for American Progress, as its inspiration — and I get both reports daily. (If you want to sign up for interesting stuff from the Brits, here is the link)
Today, Straw and Co. get into the debate over whether it’s irresponsible or prudent today to begin tightening the fiscal gusher.
The flamboyant Richard Branson says yes.
A non-brit but highly respected Paul Krugman blogs no.
And Martin Wolf gives a “hard no.”
From Will Straw’s interesting email today:
The Telegraph, Guardian and Independent outline how Richard Branson has entered the debate over the deficit in a story broken in yesterday’s Evening Standard and followed up on Left Foot Forward.
He said, “We are going to have to cut our spending and I agree with the 20 leading economists who said we need to start this year.” But writing about the same Sunday Times letter from a group of economists on his New York Times blog Nobel Prize winner, Paul Krugman, says, “It’s important to be clear that the call for immediate austerity isn’t grounded in unarguable economics; in fact, the arithmetic tells you that what Britain does in the next year or two is virtually irrelevant to its long-run solvency.”
Martin Wolf agrees and writes in today’s Financial Times: “a massive fiscal tightening today would be a grave error.”
Wolf’s full point punctuated by an extra line makes his warning even more severe:
Moreover, a massive fiscal tightening today would be a grave error. There is a huge risk – in my view, a certainty – that this would tip much of the world back into recession.
Hopefully the Brits and Barack Obama will read up on 1937 and try to avoid making the same ideologically honed mistake again.
— Steve Clemons