Can Keynesianism ever be ‘crass’?

Peer Steinbrück, the German finance minister, has ridiculed the UK’s VAT cut and accused Gordon Brown of ‘crass Keynesianism’ in cutting VAT by 2.5 percentage points. He argued that the fiscal stimulus will raise the level of UK public debt to such an extent that it will take a generation to pay off. Gordon Brown has dismissed the attack as ‘internal German politics’, a stance that was given some credibility when Angela Merkel threw her weight behind a €200bn Europe-wide fiscal stimulus plan, seeming thereby to contradict the views of her own finance minister.

Brown’s VAT cut just crass Keynesianism, say Germans Guardian (11/12/08)
Germany attacks ‘depressing’ UK economic rescue Times Online (11/12/08)
Brown hits back at German criticism of his economic rescue plan ahead of summit Times Online (11/12/08)
Angela Merkel plays Scrooge. Thank goodness Times Online (11/12/08)
Angela Merkel throws weight behind Brown’s fiscal stimulus approach Guardian (11/12/08)


  1. Why may the boost to aggregate demand from the fiscal measures announced in the pre-Budget report be less than the Chancellor hoped?
  2. What would be the effect on the budget deficit if the Chancellor had given no fiscal boost to the economy and the recession, as a result, was deeper?
  3. Can Keynesianism ever be “crass”?
  4. How would you design a fiscal policy for maximum impact in combatting a recession?