The IMF Wants More Prosperous Grasshoppers in Spain


Waddill Catchings, William Trufant Foster and John Maynard Keynes have been vindicated by the IMF in its final report of the Spanish bailout. Catchings and Foster were the first modern economists in formulating the theory of the “paradox of thrift”, that Keynes, always more eloquent, made famous. The “paradox of thrift” is something as simple as this: if everybody works and saves, nobody will prosper. It is based on a 1705 poem titled  “The Fable of the Bees”, which states: Bare Virtue can’t make Nations live In Splendor; they, that would revive. In its day, the poem was considered an attack on Christian values. And today it would be judged as an attack on honest-to-God European (i.e., Merkelian) virtues. It simply states that nobody can endlessly produce unless someone else buys those products. Pure and simple Keynesianism, strongly rejected by, among others, Hayek. This is what the IMF has demanded of Spain—more consumption. And, in order to achieve it, more credit. That means more transparent banks and less dividends, but also an ECB with a more accommodative stance in monetary policy, credible stress tests by the European Banking Authority (EBA), and decisive progress in the banking union. It is not a free lunch, though. Bankers and politicians will oppose any attempt to shed more light on the banking system, and force financial institutions to raise capital, reign in dividends, and acknowledge that some of its assets are far less valuable than they still pretend they are. The price of doing nothing is very clear—next to zero growth, and unemployment well above 20 percent for the foreseeable future.

About the Author

Pablo Pardo
Pablo Pardo is Washington DC correspondent of El Mundo. Journalist especialized in International Economics and Politics.

Be the first to comment on "The IMF Wants More Prosperous Grasshoppers in Spain"

Leave a comment