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The True Lessons of the Recession

The West Can’t Borrow and Spend Its Way to Recovery

Courtesy Reuters

According to the conventional interpretation of the global economic recession, growth has ground to a halt in the West because demand has collapsed, a casualty of the massive amount of debt accumulated before the crisis. Households and countries are not spending because they can't borrow the funds to do so, and the best way to revive growth, the argument goes, is to find ways to get the money flowing again. Governments that still can should run up even larger deficits, and central banks should push interest rates even lower to encourage thrifty households to buy rather than save. Leaders should worry about the accumulated debt later, once their economies have picked up again.

This narrative—the standard Keynesian line, modified for a debt crisis—is the one to which most Western officials, central bankers, and Wall Street economists subscribe today. As the United States has shown signs of recovery, Keynesian

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