Yest another busy week, so here’s a very brief Texas vs. California update:
Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category
The season has switched from not Summer to Summer here in Texas, so here’s a hot, humid LinkSwarm:
Notice how countries that have kept their deficit spending relatively low (Germany and even the UK, where deficits has at least decreased under Cameron) are doing much better than the PIIGS. Again, Austerity hasn’t failed in Europe, it’s been declared difficult and left untried.
There’s a lot to digest in this comparison of migration in California urban areas vs. migration in Texas urban areas. Quick take: Despite anti-sprawl laws, the cores of California cities would be emptying due to migration to the suburbs, were it not for net immigration from abroad. Texas cities, by contrast, are see growth in both the core and suburbs.
California’s political economy is based on high tax rates; rent control and growth controls; inflated housing values, but relatively low property tax rates because of Proposition 13; mandatory inclusionary housing and more jobs for teachers, tax assessors, subsidized solar power technicians, urban planners and environmentalists. Its immigration policies are mostly the symbolic “Dream Act,” anti-deportation laws and “sanctuary cities.”
Texas’ economy is based on low or no business and income taxes, no rent control, few growth controls, higher property tax rates based on lower housing values, inclusionary old inner cities by markets, and tax incentives for private sector jobs. OnlyEl Paso and Houston have sanctuary city policies. An anti-sanctuary city bill died in the Texas legislature in 2011.
California has passed anti-sprawl legislation to try to halt the out-migration from its older big cities. The results would have been miserable if international in-migration had not stemmed the outflow of population.
Texas has accomplished balanced in-migration into its older city centers where California has failed. The Texas incentive model is performing better than the California disincentive model as far as sustaining the center of its older big cities while Texas suburbs are booming at the same time. Texas is accomplishing what 75 years of public housing and lending policies could not in California: an older city core that is attracting a “return to the city” by domestic and international migration and concurrent suburban growth.
Read the whole thing.
And while we’re on the subject, this piece on the dynamism of Houston is worth reading as well.
The official figures show that PIIGS governments embarked on massive spending sprees between 2000 and 2008. During this period, their combined general government expenditures rose from 775 billion Euros to 1.3 trillion – a 75 percent increase. Ireland had the largest percentage increase (130 percent), and Italy the smallest (40 percent). These spending binges gave public sector workers generous salaries and benefits, paid for bridges to nowhere, and financed a gold-plated transfer state. What the state gave has proven hard to take away as the riots in Southern Europe show.
Then in 2008, the financial crisis hit. No one wanted to lend to the insolvent PIIGS, and, according to the Keynesian narrative, the PIIGS were forced into extreme austerity by their miserly neighbors to the north. Instead of the stimulus they desperately needed, the PIIGS economies were wrecked by austerity.
Not so according to the official European statistics. Between the onset of the crisis in 2008 and 2011, PIIGS government spending increased by six percent from an already high plateau. Eurostat’s projections (which make the unlikely assumption that the PIIGS will honor the fiscal discipline promised their creditors) still show the PIIGS spending more in 2014 than at the end of their spending binge in 2008.
Remember: Real austerity is cutting budgets until receipts match outlays. In Europe this hasn’t been tried outside the Baltic states. Meanwhile, Japan has been trying Keynesian stimulus for two decades and has nothing to show for it but a mountain of debt.
Or take this abstract (I’m still working through the actual paper) from German Institute for Economic Research economist Georg Erber: “The core thesis of the paper is that taking a close look at the actual statistics available from Eurostat on the PIIGS-countries plus Cyprus, one finds little empirical evidence that the governments there have de facto reduced their total public expenditures.”
Keynesian pump-priming hasn’t worked in Europe. Could real austerity (i.e., cutting budgets until they’re balanced) work to restore growth in Europe (and here)?
Why not actually try it and see?
Time for another Texas vs. California update!
Take a look at these charts. Unemployment in Spain is up over 25%, and most have been unemployed more than 2 years. Matthew O’Brien is correct when he says that Spain’s inflexible labor laws contribute greatly to the unemployment, but errs when he says that “austerity hasn’t been the path to prosperity. It’s been the path to perma-slump.”
Austerity hasn’t failed in Spain. It hasn’t been tried.
Spain last ran a budget surplus in 2008, and since then it has engaged in deficit spending. In 2012, Spain’s budget deficit was 9.4% of GDP, and this year it will be 10.6% of GDP.
Remember, real austerity isn’t trying to tax-and-spend your way to prosperity. Real austerity is cutting budgets until outlays match receipts. Estonia bit the bullet and balanced its budget, and its economy is now growing at a steady clip. Meanwhile, governments all across Europe continue to try the same deficit spending Keynesian pump-priming, and keep having the same recession. In most of Europe, “austerity” has meant digging their own graves more slowly rather that stopping digging.
And European elites refuse to stop digging because their power and perks all stem from swaddling voters in an unsustainable cradle-to-grave welfare system.
If all this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Europe makes the same mistakes, gets the same results, and keeps doubling down on stupid, content to keep the farce running as long as they possibly can. Instead actually of solving the interrelated problems of debt, unsustainable entitlements, and the Euro, the Euroelite seem content to preside over the world’s slowest, most boring train wreck. Yes, it’s a pity the train is sliding inexorably toward the chasm, but there’s such fine vintages to be had in the saloon car, and it offers such a magnificent view of the coming crash…
While attention was focused on the Boston bombing, Gosnell, and gay marriage, Greece just got another bailout. This is in exchange for further “austerity.”
So Greece wants more money because it can’t even keep to its previous promises on its fake austerity goals.
Let me explain it once again: Real austerity is cutting spending until it matches incoming receipts. Not reducing the rate of deficit spending. Not raising taxes so politicians can continue to spend.
No country in the EU (at least outside the Baltics) has practiced real austerity. That Forbes piece on the Baltic nations includes a lot of good advice that EU nations are largely ignoring:
Don’t run up big debts. It is a lot easier to manage when things go bad if you aren’t overextended to start. Observed Rosenberg: “Estonia’s experience shows that prudent policies during the boom may not avoid a bust, but they can put the country into a better position to deal with shocks.”
Don’t engage in an orgy of “stimulus” spending. That will run up big debts without generating long-term growth. When budgets eventually are cut, as they will have to be, the economic loss and political pain will be even greater.
Make tough decisions early. People typically are ready to act after the crisis hits. In the case of Latvia, argued Asmussen, by acting swiftly “most of the required painful budgetary decisions could be passed before the so-called ‘adjustment fatigue’ kicked in.”
Maintain fiscal responsibility. Otherwise any progress will be transitory. Growth is the natural result of reform. Delaying reform exacerbates the problem while prematurely terminating reform short-circuits the recovery.
Emphasize budget cuts. Expansive and irresponsible public outlays usually contribute to economic crisis. Moreover, the state as well as citizens should sacrifice after a crash. The answer is to cut expansive and irresponsible public outlays. In fact, economists Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna found that “spending cuts are much more effective than tax increases in stabilizing the debt and avoiding economic downturns. In fact, we uncover several episodes in which spending cuts adopted to reduce deficits have been associated with economic expansions rather than recessions.”
Finally, don’t rest on one’s laurels. There always is more to do. Even nations which have implemented serious reform programs, like the Baltic States, could make further improvements.
As far as I can tell, none of the core EU states (and certainly none of the PIIGS) has tried this approach since the 2008 recession hit. They keep trying Neo-Keynesian pump-priming and deficit spending to keep both the Euro and their unsustainable welfare state float, and they keep experiencing endless recession. Their fake austerity comes in slightly reducing the amount of their deficit spending enough to pretend they’re in compliance to keep the bailouts coming. Ireland hasn’t practiced real austerity. Neither has Portugal, Spain, or Italy (though Italy has come closest).
The shell game of bailouts and fake austerity will continue as long as the Eurocrats can keep getting away with it.
Time for another Texas vs. California roundup: