The quack doctors rolled into town just as the global economy had come off the critical list.
It was 2009 and the message from the austerity medicine show was simple: the only way back to full health was a course of heavy-duty cuts.
Expert opinion was divided.
There were other diagnoses available.
There were economists who said austerity was the equivalent of going back to the days of blood-letting – but they lost the argument.
The prescription – though it varied a bit from country to country – was pretty much the same across the developed world: get those budget deficits down.
The upshot was that the global economy had a relapse and has never fully recovered.
Officials at the International Monetary Fund – which meets for its annual meeting in Bali this week – eventually admitted that they had underestimated the power of fiscal policy – taxes and spending – to boost growth when every country was struggling and interest rates were already at rock-bottom levels.