Be Outraged: Austerity isn't working

22 May, 2012 | Health and Education For All
Be Outraged: Austerity isn't working

A new Oxfam supported book, Be Outraged: Austerity isn't working, is looking at alternatives to current European austerity drive.

As European leaders finish their get together with their G8 counterparts and prepare to have further European talks, there is only topic on the agenda - the global economic crisis. How this is tackled matters to a whole generation of Europeans, and importantly it also has ramifications for people in developing countries. As poor people around the world suffer the fallout from a crisis they did nothing to cause, it is important to ask: can we do better than this?

That's why Oxfam has supported eleven prominent economists and social scientists in the production of Be Outraged: Austerity isn't working. Their analysis and recommendations are not Oxfam policy, but it is a compelling contribution to this vital debate around the impact of, and solutions to, the economic crisis.

Continued deflation in developed countries will reduce growth in the rest of the world, worsening poverty among the poorest people. To bring changes of policy in the UK and other countries in Europe will require a change of mind-set and stronger international initiatives. The fiscal stimulus agreed at the 2009 G20 in London restored recovery for a year, helping global growth reach 4 per cent in 2010. A new stimulus and renewed coordination is badly needed now. Across Europe ordinary people are reeling from a crisis that was caused by the profligacy of the banks. Even as recession grips and millions of people face an uncertain future, with cuts to much needed public services, top incomes have soared in the UK and US. At the same time, more than 10 per cent of European adults are unemployed, up by 50 per cent since 2008. Be Outraged argues that now is the time for economists to stand up and argue for alternatives that address these growing inequalities and tackle the failures of the banking crash and austerity drive.

It calls for a new economic approach that includes government action to promote growth and transform the financial sector from a "bad master to good servant". One of its recommendations is the implementation of the Robin Hood Tax. Oxfam has been at the forefront of this exciting idea and millions of people around the world are also clamoring for this Financial Transaction Tax to control speculation and act as a valuable source of revenue.

As Greece teeters on the brink of political and economic chaos, now feels like the time to shout for different economic policies to the failed austerity agenda. This week Europe's leaders are meeting to discuss ways to boost growth across the continent. This comes just weeks after Francois Hollande was elected President of France promising more pro-growth policies. Europe needs urgently to escape from a trap where the screws of austerity are tightened while reductions of debt proceed ever more slowly or even increase. 


One of the authors, Richard Jolly, argues that European leaders pushing austerity as the solution to the current economic crisis are guilty of "bad economics, bad arithmetic and ignoring the lessons of history." As austerity continues to bite, it's time that we started looking at alternative policies to improve the lives of ordinary people around the world.

Download a free copy: Be Outraged: Austerity isn't working

Further analysis: “Be Outraged!” Some big names in development take on the Austerians

Tell us what you think: growth or austerity?

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