What is austerity?

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I am spending much of the day in meetings and seminars, the first being on the subject of austerity.

That made me ask the obvious question, of what is austerity? Looking at dictionary definitions definitions I think it fair to conclude that austerity means:

  1. Sternness or severity of manner or attitude
  2. Plainness and simplicity in appearance
  3. A feature of an austere way of life
  4. Difficult economic conditions created by government measures to reduce public expenditure

In practical terms I interpret that as meaning:

  • A lack
  • With severe consequences
  • Adopted as a matter of choice.

Thoughts?

NB: moderation may be very slow today for the reasons noted