Austerity Strikes Sweep Europe

Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy and Belgium have been most affected by a day of protests and strikes in Europe over swinging government austerity measures.

“Of course it’s a political strike, against the policies of a suicidal and anti-social government,” said Igancio Fernandez Toxo, a CCOO Spanish union leader, as the general strike spread through Spain where a 25% unemployment rate has put the country at the heart of the EU social unrest.

More from Reuters. Riot police have clashed with protesters in Italy and Spain, using batons and rubber bullets. The Guardian’s Business Blog has pictures from around the Eurozone.

Meanwhile, in the NY Times, Krugman wants to reframe the “fiscal cliff” – it’s actually an Austerity Bomb:

Brian Beutler of Talking Points Memo seems to have been the first to use the phrase “austerity bomb” for what’s scheduled to happen at the end of the year. It’s a much better term than “fiscal cliff”. The cliff stuff makes people imagine that it’s a problem of excessive deficits when it’s actually about the risk that the deficit will be too small; also and relatedly, the fiscal cliff stuff enables a bait and switch in which people say “so, this means that we need to enact Bowles-Simpson and raise the retirement age!” which have nothing at all to do with it.

And it can’t be emphasized enough that everyone who shrieks about the dangers of the austerity bomb is in effect acknowledging that the Keynesians were right all along, that slashing spending and raising taxes on ordinary workers is destructive in a depressed economy, and that we should actually be doing the opposite.

Take note, because an Austerity Bomb is exactly what Obama is dead set on agreeing to with Republicans. The rest of us will end up eating the shit sandwich they make for us, but oh well.  It’s his legacy and the Village is all for it.

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