Monday, January 30, 2012

Neville Chamberlain, the Hero

You would think in 70 years the world would "progress" and leaders would have incorporated the lessons of the past and we would have a better world.

But, as Brad DeLong points out, despite Chamberlain's horrible appeasement policy with Hitler, he did get one thing right which leaders today in the UK have got horribly wrong:
Neville Chamberlain is remembered today as the British prime minister who, as an avatar of appeasement of Nazi Germany in the late 1930’s, helped to usher Europe into World War II. But, earlier in that fateful decade, relatively soon after the start of the Great Depression, the British economy was rapidly returning to its previous level of output, thanks to Chancellor of the Exchequer Neville Chamberlain’s reliance on fiscal stimulus to restore the price level to its pre-depression trajectory.

Compare that approach to the expansion-through-austerity policy being pursued nowadays by British Prime Minister David Cameron’s government (with Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne leading the cheering squad). The country’s real GDP has flat-lined, and the odds are high that British real GDP is headed down again.

Indeed, in less than a year, if current forecasts are correct, Britain’s Cameron-Osborne Depression will not merely be the worst depression in Britain since the Great Depression, but probably the worst depression in Britain…ever.

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