What is austerity?

May 14th, 2012

Tyler Cowen asks what the definition of “austerity” is, and sort of answers it:

I wonder if some Keynesians have in mind the baseline of “the expansionary policies which I think would be appropriate,” in which case doing less than the Keynesian optimum is always a form of austerity.

I have a more simple definition: it’s a word used to cast moral and emotional judgment on a set of policies without having to actually discuss what those policies are and whether they may be justified or have some basis.