The IMF – historically the world’s foremost cheerleader of austerity – admitted that it was based on a false prospectus: these policies do more harm than good. Simon Wren-Lewis of Oxford University said that the issue was not whether attempts to reduce the deficit had damaged the economy, but “how much GDP has been lost as a result”. Amartya Sen said that while austerity “deepened Europe’s economic problems, it did not help in the aimed objective of reducing the ratio of debt to GDP to any significant extent”. Richard Portes at London Business School says that even the UK’s sluggish growth under the Conservatives is down to the “semi-covert” backing away from George Osborne’s initially brutal plans, which would have done even more harm. Paul Krugman wrote that in the post-crisis economy “the government does everyone a service by running deficits and giving frustrated savers a chance to put their money to work … deficit spending that expands the economy is, if anything, likely to lead to higher private investment than would otherwise materialise”. All this has led Joseph Stiglitz to remark that it’s “remarkable there are still governments, including here in the UK, that still believe in austerity”.