Monday, February 27, 2012

If only I were in charge...

So what does ail Europe?  The truth is that the story is mostly monetary.  By introducing a single currency without the institutions needed to make that currency work, Europe effectively reinvented the defects of the gold standard—defects that played a major role in causing and perpetuating the Great Depression.

—Paul Krugman.  “What Ails Europe?”  February 26, 2012.  The New York Times.

When it comes to understanding financial crises and economic fluctuations one generally has a choice between two explanations.  One describes malaise as the result of bad decisions by consumers, firms, and/or government.  The other is a lament of how everything would have been better if I (the economist talking) were in charge of policy.