Western leaders weren't listening in 2006 and 2007 when genuine "thinking" economists like Krugman and Stiglitz were warning that their house of cards was about to collapse. Even self-proclaimed economists like Harper ignored them and later said no one could see the collapse of 2008 coming. No one who couldn't be bothered to listen.
And they're not listening now - on either side of the Atlantic. Genuine economists are warning this is no time for austerity crackdowns. You don't go the austerity route, they warn, until your economy is back on its feet. Premature cutbacks will only worsen the situation.
Now, it seems, the Euros are coming to realize these guys are right - austerity doesn't pay off.
"...suddenly, as investors’ fears mount that many euro area nations are about to tip into recession, even countries like creditworthy France are finding it much more expensive to borrow money in the open market. And with that development comes a dawning realization: that austerity, rather than making it easier for them to pay down their higher debts, could make it harder — and more expensive."
Ireland should have been the miners' canary. The Irish government slashed spending and benefits and all it got for it was even higher costs on government bonds. Austerity measures both undermined economic activity and increased the government's cost of borrowing. Brilliant, eh?