How the Case for Austerity Has Crumbled

The Alchemists: Three Central Bankers and a World on Fire
by Neil Irwin
Penguin, 430 pp., $29.95

Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea
by Mark Blyth
Oxford University Press, 288 pp., $24.95

The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America
by David A. Stockman
PublicAffairs, 742 pp., $35.00

austerity and growth

In normal times, an arithmetic mistake in an economics paper would be a complete nonevent as far as the wider world was concerned. But in April 2013, the discovery of such a mistake—actually, a coding error in a spreadsheet, coupled with several other flaws in the analysis—not only became the talk of the economics profession, but made headlines. Looking back, we might even conclude that it changed the course of policy.

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