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  • Originally published 07/21/2013

    Amid Greek austerity, plunder of priceless treasures

    The financial crisis in Greece has already had far-reaching consequences for many people, but now it is claiming a new casualty as some of the country's ancient treasures become a target for thieves.Detective Gergios Tsoukalis puffs nervously on his cigar. In the passenger's seat of a taxi, he grapples with four different mobile phones as he tries to co-ordinate the arrest of yet another antiquities smuggler.As the driver pulls into the port, he sees ahead of him that plainclothes police officers have already pounced on the unassuming man, who is completely shocked by the early-morning operation....

  • Originally published 05/13/2013

    Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea

    Credit: Oxford University Press.This book has a rather unusual genesis. David McBride from Oxford University Press emailed me in July 2010 and asked me if I wanted to write a book about the turn to austerity in economic policy. I had been playing with a book idea called “The End of the Liberal World” for a while but really hadn't been getting all that far with it. Dave's offer seemed to be a ready-made alternative project. After all, someone had to write such a book, and since I had, as bankers say, “skin in the game” here, for reasons I shall elaborate below, I said yes. Shortly thereafter Geoffrey Kirkman, Associate Director of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, where I am a faculty fellow, wondered if there was anything that I would like to make into a short video. I say yes – I'd do something about this new book that I have agreed to write.

  • Originally published 05/07/2013

    Andrew Edwards: How Austerity Pushed American Colonists to Revolt

    Andrew Edwards is a PhD student in American history at Princeton University. The opinions expressed are his own.As the euro area tries to wrestle member states into fiscal submission through bailouts, austerity and capital controls, it would be well advised to consider a historical precedent: the American Revolution.In the early 18th century, North America held a role in the British Empire that was similar to the one occupied by Cyprus or Slovenia in the euro area today. Americans were slavers, smugglers, rumrunners and fanatics -- as “opulent, commercial, thriving” as they were irresponsible and fiscally profligate. But as the empire struggled to stay solvent after the Seven Years War, the government of Prime Minister George Grenville attempted to bring the colonists to heel in the name of fiscal austerity.“The Circumstances of the Times, the Necessities of the Country, and the Abilities of the Colonies, concur in requiring an American Revenue,” wrote Thomas Whately, a Grenville ally, in 1765.