Expansionary Austerity In America?
What are the causes of this turnaround? In part ir reflects the fact that growth is the natural state of the economy and that the factors that depressed it are dissipating and in part it reflects a credit-driven investment boom. Fixed business investments rose 7.5% in real terms in the year to the fourth quarter financed by a 11.4% gain in commercial & industrial loans. The fact that it is credit-driven indicates that it is an early stage of a classical Austrian business cycle scenario, but with the level of investments still below the peak levels of previous expansions, there is room for further expansion.
One aspect that makes the upswing look sounder is that it has happened while government spending has declined. The category government purchases (spending excluding transfer- and interest payments) has dropped from a post-1992 peak of 21.1% of GDP in the third quarter of 2009 to 19.7% in the fourth quarter of 2011, mostly because of spending cuts at the state and local levels.
This makes what Krugman wrote a few months ago especially interesting:
"Basically, government has been shrinking for the past year — in practice, fiscal policy has been doing exactly what Republicans say it should be doing. Where’s my confidence fairy?"
Right here, it seems.