…but in the numbers? Paul Krugman is thrilled that the voters of France and Greece are fighting back against “austerity.” While he has plenty of words to work with, he says not a one about actual government spending figures.
Here’s an OECD chart, most recent figures available as near as I can tell (if the austerity-ites have more recent ones, it would be good to use them in these discussions) which expresses European (and other) government spending in U.S. dollars (for us U.S.-bound fools), in current prices and purchasing power parity.
Just looking from 2009 to 2010–2010 being the most recent year whose figure are available for most countries–here are the EU countries that spent less in the latter year than the former: Czech Republic (by $1.4 billion), Estonia (by one hundred million), Greece (by $9.4 billion), Hungary (by $.9 billion), Iceland (by $200 million), Ireland (by $1 billion), Italy (by $8.1 billion), Portugal (by $200 million), Spain (by $5.3 billion).
Every one of those countries, though, is spending more than they spent in 2007 (and most of them more than in 2008), and quite a lot more more than in 2004.
For 2004-2010 comparison: Czech Republic is spending $12.7 billion more; Estonia $2.2 billion more; Greece $10.2 billion more; Hungary $8.2 billion more; Iceland $400 million more; Ireland $10.5 billion more; Italy $91.8 billion more; Portugal $16 billion more; Spain a whopping $113 billion more.
So in every case even any apparent “austerity” in the past couple of years is just a slight ramping down from big ramp-ups from 2004-08, approximately.