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Dutch Madmen in Authority

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Gepubliceerd om: december 2 2013

John Maynard Keynes: “Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.” (The General Theory, 1936, last page)

After S&P downgraded of the Dutch sovereign last Friday from AAA to AA+ my worst expectations were confirmed. As I wrote on my last blog: “Sadly, I would not be surprised that Dutch policy makers would take an economically highly inconsistent credit-rating report to justify even more austerity.” Exactly this is what happened:

Prime minister Mark Rutte:

It’s a disappointment that the Netherlands lost its AAA-rating. The downgrade emphasizes that we should continue the road we have taken.” (Trouw, November 30)

Minister of Finance Jeroen Dijsselbloem:

The Netherlands should hold on to prudent budgetary policy and continue a number of reforms. That is exactly what we are doing, hence we consider this as an encouragement.” (BNR, November 30).

S&P emphasizes the importance of restoring public finances and bringing down public debt. And they are very positive about the fact that in the Netherlands there still is, also in parliament, such broad political support for our budgetary policy.” (NOS, 29 November)

Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp:

We are doing what we think that should be done: we will continue restoring public finances and making necessary reforms. There is no alternative.” (Het Financieele Dagblad, November 30)

I think we will need much more austerity.” (De Volkskrant, November 30)

Minister of Social Affairs Lodewijk Asscher:

People know as well that we cannot continue borrowing. The Netherlands has just lost its rating. We have to control the budget by not spending too much, by making sure it remains in order.” (WNL on Sunday, December 1)

So all our Ministers heard voices in the air. I keep on wondering from which academic scribblers of a few years back they are distilling their economic frenzy.