Learning to live with the demon debt
Debt is necessary, and partially good. John Cullinane argues that a widespread misunderstanding of debt and how it works is leading political and business leaders alike to support the mainstream 'austerity' project and dismiss Keynesian alternatives.
Cullinane suggests that Keynesianism has won the academic debate but struggles to resonate with the public. 'Businesses of all sizes need to raise debt to finance expansion,' he says. 'People borrow money to become home owners, and the three main parties now promote it to finance university education. But when it comes to escaping from recession, the talk is of "burdening our children", as if they have no interest in economic recovery.
'And in the present, one person's spending is another person's income - so cutting public spending in a recession pretty much means cutting private income. In just the same way, one person's (or government's) debt liability is another person's (or pension fund's) financial asset - and it may well be the safest asset in the fund. It is time to look at the other face of debt.'