"Spineless": Krugman slams French President François Hollande

The New York Times columnist blasts France's leader and other members of the EU's "hapless" center-left

Published January 17, 2014 2:35PM (EST)

Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman                                                            (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)
Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)

New York Times columnist and award-winning economist Paul Krugman once had high hopes for French President François Hollande, believing that the socialist politician who defeated Nicolas Sarkozy would "take a stand" against the failed austerity economics of the eurozone.

No longer.

In his Friday column for the New York Times, the best-selling author and influential liberal pundit castigates Hollande and other members of Europe's center-left leadership for acquiescing to economic "orthodoxy," despite the region's persistently high levels of unemployment and persistently low levels of growth.

Describing Hollande's decision to "embrace ... discredited right-wing economic doctrines" as "scandalous," Krugman argues that the French president's failure is a reminder that the eurozone's continuing stagnation "can’t be attributed solely to the bad ideas of the right" and that "spineless, muddleheaded politicians on the moderate left" also deserve some of the blame.

What's got Krugman so angry with Hollande? The French president's recently announced decision to cut taxes on businesses and cut spending despite the fact that "[a]ll the evidence says that France is awash in productive resources, both labor and capital, that are sitting idle because demand is inadequate." He says Hollande's new policy goals — which he describes as an "intellectual collapse" — are indicative of the "haplessness of the European center-left."

Ending on a down note, Krugman says he sees no end to austerity's miseries in sight. "Europe’s second depression," he writes, "goes on and on."

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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Austerity Eu European Union Eurozone Francois Hollande Nicolas Sarkozy Paul Krugman The New York Times