Just how austere is European austerity?

Conventional wisdom purports that the crowds of protesters in the streets from Greece to France are merely voicing their opposition to “austerity” measures imposed by their respective governments. The outrage of the citizens would be understandable if austerity were less of a buzzword and more of an actual policy.

According to Neil Reynolds in Canada’s Globe and Mail, austerity may be as much as myth as the Loch Ness monster.

For example, he cites statistics which show that Greece has not cut spending, but has “increased its public sector expenditures from 45.2 per cent of GDP to 50.1 per cent.”

Conversely, “Sweden cut its expenditures from 55.2 per cent of GDP to 51.3 per cent, the largest single act of austerity on the continent” and Switzerland “reduced its expenditures from 36.4 per cent of GDP to 34.2 per cent.”

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