In a recent article, Zakaria concedes over the overwhelming evidence, that austerity has made Europe's economy worse off.
From a double dip recession in the UK to full blown depression in Spain, the evidence is that "you see government workers who have been fired tend to buy fewer goods and services, for example -– and all this means falling tax receipts and thus even bigger deficits."
But the problem, as he sees it is that "governments spend in bad times and then spend more in good times" because "politicians have gotten elected over the last four decades in the West by promising voters more benefits, more pensions and more health care."
Thus the answer, to borrow a phrase from Paul Krugman, is to "bleed the patient" even if it doesn't work in the first place, reduce the benefits or reduce democracy. But is this even accurate?
First of all, the Eurozone crisis is not because of overspending due to democracy, as Paul Krugman has pointed out, all the struggling GIPSI countries, (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Italy) all had combined surpluses prior to the recession and it was massive Bank loans generating bubbles that left the countries devastated. As Krugman points out "Don’t think runaway politicians; think German Landesbanken lending money to Spanish cajas, fueling a real estate bubble"
Indeed, even if the European people demanded more benefits over the years, the actual evidence doesn't show it. However, it would be hard to prove that the people voted for banks to make massive loans in order to spur bubbles.
And as can be seen, austerity simply doesn't work.
So why is Zakaria claiming that it was reckless spending even though the evidence shows that spending went down when times were good? Either hes spent too much time with Germans who wholeheartedly believe it, or he dislikes democracy which can be an impediment to economic growth.
Note: both charts created by Paul Krugman.