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Samuel Brittan | The Financial Times
. . . advice of a deflationary and contractionary variety can be forced on countries in difficulties – such as the weaker eurozone members, which are victims of the so-called troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF. There is no way of forcing the advice of these bodies on powerful surplus countries. Thus the whole system has a deflationary bias when the world least needs it.
The one large country that has acted partly in line with the international consensus is Japan, which yesterday surprised and pleased markets by announcing an aggressive policy of monetary easing. But this was not because of the international consensus. Rather, it was because a new government has decided to try and put an end to years of stagnation.
. . . Germany offers another example of the ineffectiveness of consensus. For many years, it has been under pressure to expand home demand. I do not want to endorse the rigid pre-Keynesian orthodoxy that has descended on German policy, which is scant reward for the vigorous campaign conducted by Keynes in the 1920s against the burden of reparations imposed on Germany in the Versailles treaty. The moves to make a balanced budget a constitutional requirement suggest that the country’s leaders have imported an economic Bourbonism from their French neighbours. Policy may relax a little after the country’s elections this year, but don’t hold your breath.
Lyon, France: People of the Roma community who were evicted from a camp prepare to sleep on the street in front of the administrative court. | Photograph: Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images
Rangoon, Burma: Burmese workers clean a burned mosque. | Photograph: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.
Uijeongbu, South Korea: A US army training exercise at Camp Stanley. | Photograph: EPA