When I first started working on fiscal policy in the 1980s, I never thought I would consider Sweden any sort of role model.
It was the quintessential cradle-to-grave welfare state, much loved on the left as an example for America to follow.
But Sweden suffered a severe economic shock in the early 1990s and policy makers were forced to rethink big government.
I even, much to my surprise, wrote a column in 2012 stating that it’s “Time to Follow Sweden’s Lead on Fiscal Policy.”
More specifically, I’m impressed that Swedish leaders have imposed some genuine fiscal restraint.
From a libertarian perspective, that’s obviously not very impressive, particularly since the public sector was consuming about two-thirds of economic output at the start of the period.
But by the standards of European politicians, 1.9 percent annual growth was relatively frugal.
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