Unfortunately, Paul Krugman does not seem to get it. In his latest column, "Making of a Euromess," he blames the economic crisis in Spain on...the Euro. Now, I am no more fond of the Euro than I am of the 1923 German Mark, but Krugman's reasoning is something to behold. In his own words:
And there’s not much that Spain’s government can do to make things better. The nation’s core economic problem is that costs and prices have gotten out of line with those in the rest of Europe. If Spain still had its old currency, the peseta, it could remedy that problem quickly through devaluation — by, say, reducing the value of a peseta by 20 percent against other European currencies. But Spain no longer has its own money, which means that it can regain competitiveness only through a slow, grinding process of deflation.Notice that he is saying that Spain really is in trouble because it cannot engage in inflation, since it does not control the Euro, unlike its former fiat currency, the peseta. However, devaluation really does nothing but put off the Day of Reckoning for a while, but that day will arrive.
On the other hand, perhaps the best thing that Spain needs is the "grinding process of deflation," as that simply means that the prices paid for overvalued Spanish factors of production (and especially labor) are going to have to fall into line with economic reality. Most people, and especially the heavily-unionized Spanish workforce, don't want to hear that "option," as they would like to continue the charade that economic recovery is not going to require some short-term painful medicine.
However, if the Spanish were willing to take the medicine, they would be hurting now, but their economy would recover and become a beacon in Europe. Inflation, while delivering the "good effects" in the short-run, runs the economy off the rails as bout after bout of money devaluation takes its toll.
Not surprisingly, Krugman advocates inflation and denounces deflation. Yet, the only hope for Spain is deflation. The European Union is not going to bail out Spain, and that is a good thing. No, Spain needs to get its house in order. Likewise, on this side of the Pond, perhaps the USA needs to get its own house in order and stop preaching the Gospel of Inflation.