It is remarkable how the economic debate that has dominated political life over the past decade in Britain and much of Europe—how austere should we be?—is completely irrelevant to our current crisis, as if that argument sits in a parallel economic universe that we no longer inhabit.

Instead of arguing about how swiftly governments should balance the books and lower their debt levels, leading economists, who are typically better known for their rhetorical sobriety, are suddenly making the case for much more aggressive public spending. People such as Mario Draghi, a former president of the European Central Bank, Olivier Blanchard, previously a chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, and the economist Kenneth Rogoff, who has often argued that too much debt leads to far lower

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