Austerity: For Better Or For Worse? – Ryan Woodgate

'Can Fiscal Stimulus Save Us?' - School of Economics, Dr Sean Brocklebank & Prof Sevi Rodriguez MoraDr Brocklebank and Professor Mora at the debate. Photo by Juliette Behr.

Tuesday saw the absorbing panel discussion entitled “Can Fiscal Stimulus Save Us?” hosted by the School of Economics. The question up for debate was an age-old economic epic. It was also one of great current relevance as it concerned the course of action nations experiencing economic recession, like the UK in recent years, ought to take. Is austerity the best medicine in ensuring the recovery of an ill economy? Or is increased government spending better in paving the way out of a recession? In attendance to watch some of the School of Economics’ sharpest minds battle it out were students from a range of schools within the university. With economics students making up the majority, however, the speakers were kept on their toes.

Both sides presented thorough and convincing arguments as to whether austerity is to be encouraged during economic slumps. Dr. Zymek, headed the case against austerity, insisting that increased spending stimulates the economy back into operation by relying on an array of data and his fast-paced wit. Not to be outdone, Dr. Brocklebank then fronted the opposition, responding to each point with well-reasoned arguments and, as he dubbed it, an “arsenal” of graphs. Dr. Brocklebank maintained that more borrowing and spending is ineffective and even risky since it can result in further government debt and, in turn, greater economic woes. After each side detailed their case, Prof. Rodriguez Mora, though reluctant to whole-heartedly endorse one side, added a few other insightful comments and a number of jokes that induced great laughter amongst the spectators.

The debate, though competitively argued, was pleasantly relaxed and humorous in tone. Debate moderator and head of the School of Economics, Dr. Clark, further facilitated this enjoyable atmosphere by providing some provoking questions as well as intermittent quips.

After a question and answer session concluded the debate, a poll was taken to see what the audience now made of the question. A rough split down the middle of the audience reflected, not only the difficult nature of the question, but the more or less equal passion and power of each side’s argument.

Afterwards a selection of drinks was offered, over which the audience could further chat and let sink in the points and the implications of the great debate that had just taken place.

Ryan Woodgate – Philosophy and Economics


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