Coronavirus crisis doesn’t mean Corbyn was right

One of the reasons for the sharemarket fall is revised payoffs from investments because of high public debt and higher taxes. This massive borrowing has to be paid back sooner or later.

The current Labour Party finance minister in his emergency package page specific praise to both his National Party and Labour Party predecessors as finance ministers for insisting that the public debt be in the longer term no more than 20%. This fiscal conservatism means that New Zealand can borrow quite a lot but still have some reasonable prospect of paying it back without raising taxes much.

Plain-speaking Economics

Given how trendy it is to blame ‘capitalism’ for all the world’s other ills, from wars to climate change, it’s no surprise that some have been quick to pin the current crisis on the failures of free markets too. Many have also used the need for unprecedented government intervention as evidence that the state should play a much bigger role in normal times as well. This is, to put it as politely as I can, rather disingenuous.

Let’s start by slaying a couple of strawmen. First, even the fiercest critics of the ‘nanny state’ would agree that public health cannot be left entirely to the markets. As Chris Snowdon has explained, the risk of a great many deaths from coronavirus is a textbook example of serious negative externalities that can only be dealt with by collective action. This is uncontroversial.

Second, most economists, whatever their leanings, would agree that…

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