What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell us

What’s up, Europe? The austerity edition

Kai Ryssdal Mar 5, 2013
HTML EMBED:
COPY

What’s up, Europe? The austerity edition

Kai Ryssdal Mar 5, 2013
HTML EMBED:
COPY

What it’s going to feel like once our budget cuts really kick in?

We might be able to find a few clues from Europe.

The Europeans call it austerity, and — yes — it’s more severe than what the United States is about to experience, but there may be a few object lessons to be learned from the European Union.

Take Ireland. That country has been subject to strong austerity measures since 2008. One problem, according to Dublin-based journalist Louise Williams, is that it takes quite a while to get a grasp on the true amount of pain the country’s headed towards.

“Quite radical cuts are announced and then very intense lobbying takes place, then what we shift into is a process of negotiations and deliberations and then kind of a gentle chopping away of services.”

Williams says that uncertainy makes a recovery more difficult.

“This shifting sands makes it very difficult for us, even as a nation, to know what’s next.”  

Spain has faced steep budget cuts more recently. Some of its citizens have reacted angrily and protested in the streets. Miguel-Anxo Murado, a journalist in Madrid, says that austerity affects more than peoples’ pocketbooks.

“The fact that it is the government, the state that is affecting this austerity agenda, has caused many people to lose confidence in the government, in the state.”

And those big, national mood shifts might be around to stay. Even after 5 years of austerity in Ireland, Williams says that things are still grim.

“I know we’re moving into spring time […] but you don’t feel it here, you really don’t. There’s a paring back of public services and there’s a sense that it’ll never end.”

But, Murado continues, the U.S. may be in a better position than these European countries.

“We don’t have that autonomy in deciding our own economy, because we’re part of the European Union. And in Spain even when the politicians of a country —  the elected representatives —  don’t want something to happen, it happens anyway. That’s quite a different sort of problem.”

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.