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How Large have European Spending Cuts Actually Been?

To be sure, there are particular small countries which have made serious spending cuts, in the Baltics most of all.  But sometimes one hears it said that an anti-austerity strategy must be EU-wide as a whole, or that austerity is “a failed strategy for the eurozone,” or something similar.  So perhaps it is worth looking at some numbers for the larger picture.

First, I wish we would stop being surprised by what’s happening in Europe right now. Second, I wish anti-austerity critics would start acknowledging that taxes have gone up too–in most cases more than the spending has been cut. Third, I wish that we would stop assuming that gigantic “savage” cuts are the source of the EU’s problems. Some spending cuts have been implemented in a few countries. Also, if this data were adjusted for inflation (which I would prefer but the data isn’t available) it would possibly show a slight decrease and certainly a flatter line for all countries. However, the overwhelming take away from the European experience is that a majority of governments haven’t really implemented spending cuts, large or small, and some have even continued to grow.

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