It’s fashionable among economic propagandists to argue that "austerity" has failed in a few European countries.
I would point out a few things. First, if it’s already legitimate to conclude that austerity has failed, then it’s equally legitimate to conclude that High Church Economics (i.e. Keynesianism) has failed.
More substantively and less propaganda-y, I like to think of the current economic slowdown as a confrontation with truth. The truth is that every poor immigrant from Mexico can’t own his own five-bedroom house. The truth is that the country cannot afford to pay everyone’s medical bills. The truth is that high finance is built on a foundation of sand. Etc.
There is going to be a lot of pain associated with accepting these new truths. We have two choices: 1) spread out the pain over a long period of time or 2) get it over with.
I favor getting the pain over with as quickly as possible – this is not the popular answer.
Austerity is much closer to second camp. Therefore, it should not "work" in the short term, but only in the long term. I assumed this was obvious.