"More often than not, economic policy misfires when policymakers find themselves fighting the last war. This happens more often in history than non-economists often appreciate. Rishi Sunak’s budget is a classic in the genre.
Take perhaps the most extreme example: Weimar Germany. In the first half of the Twenties, the young republic was seeing its economy collapse due to hyperinflation caused by the punitive repayments imposed by the victors in the First World War. By lending in American capital markets and buttressing the currency, the hyperinflation cooled. But in 1929, as Wall Street went into meltdown, American capital markets seized up and Germany started to slide into a deflationary depression.
But German policymakers remained fixated by the prospect of hyperinflation. So when they saw turbulence ahead, their default position was to assume that trouble was inflationary, not deflationary. As a result, they slammed the brakes on government spending and led their country into a punishing depression. And we all know what happened next.
Sunak’s budget suffers the opposite problem. Since 2008, we have been experiencing a world of economic stagnation and low interests. Keynesian policy proposals — spending more money — have been in circulation in policy circles all throughout this period. I should know, I was one of the people circulating them. They are perfectly suited to an economy with relatively high unemployment and low inflation."
The full article can also be found in our Politics Section as an addendum to the headline article 'Why Rishi Sunak will win.'