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April 9, 2014
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Jewish World Review
July 10, 2012/ 20 Tamuz, 5772
Make the Euro A Joking Matter
Why is the global economy finding it so difficult to emerge from the crisis of 2008? Increasingly the evidence points to that huge bureaucratic monstrosity, the European Union, as the source of the trouble.
During the past two years EU leaders have held numerous summit meetings, including tête-a-tête encounters between Germanys chancellor, Angela Merkel, and Frances former president, Nicolas Sarkozy. All were hailed as make-or-break opportunities to save the euro. All failed. Meanwhile, most of Europe is sinking deeper into stagnation or industrial decline and experiencing rising unemployment and psychological despair.
The EUs failure is affecting the rest of the world. Chinas exports are suffering and its economy faltering because of the drop in demand from the EU, its biggest single market. The U.S., which has been enjoying a natural recovery, is feeling a knock-on effect from EU weakness. Britain is also complaining.
There are two chief reasons for the euro zone mess. A strategic error was made in creating the euro as a common currency without aligning its members financial and fiscal policies. Without a submergence of sovereignty some members, especially the weaker and more extravagant ones to the south, were bound to exploit their membership through reckless borrowing.
Greece, Portugal and Ireland were flagrant and obvious examples. Spain recently emerged as an even more extravagant case. And under its socialist ideologue president, François Hollande, France will soon be joining Spain.
The only remedy for this folly is strong leadership by those in charge of the EU. In practice, this means Germany. But Chancellor Merkel has been brought up to believe that the two world wars were essentially German wars, caused by Germanys attempt to boss Europe around. So leadership is the one thing Germany cant afford to exercise. The stronger it is in relation to the rest of the euro zone, the more Merkel must refrain from telling the others what to doa self-induced moral paralysis.
Hence, whatever now happens on the European continent will not be planned. The likelihood is that the euro zones weaker members will be forced out one by one. This ragged and unpredictable process will be accompanied by market shocks, bank failures and rising unemployment in all countries. This is a formula for economic disaster, to be followed by the rise of political extremism, especially on the right.
With GermanyEuropes strongest economyflatly refusing to lead theres not much hope that Britain, strangled by a coalition, will satisfy the deficiency. In order to stay in office David Cameron has to keep his Liberal Democrat allies content, and they are fanatical Europeans, who refuse to see that the EU cannot work because it is too bureaucratic and doctrinaire.
As long as America continues to have a weak and indecisive Administration, we can expect no resolute lead from Washington, either. Mitt Romney has yet to establish himself as a world figure, but he has an opportunity this summer and autumn to make the recovering U.S. economyby far the worlds largestpull its weight again.
The U.S. has the wonderful ability to speedily transform itself from a state of intense pessimism to one of vigorous optimism. I remember the dark days of the 1970s, when the enforced resignation of Richard Nixon and the stagnant years of Gerald Fords and Jimmy Carters presidencies combined to drive Americas admirers to near despair.
But then came the advent of Ronald Reagan. Within weeks of Reagans entering the White House Americas pulse was racing, there was a new sense of purpose and the Administration began acquiring the decisiveness and authority that became its hallmarks.
The recovery of Americas characteristic self-confidence was a political miracle. If Mitt Romney is elected the same thing could again happen. And it needs to happen for the world economy to get back on track to expansion. Then old Mother Merkel can tag happily along in Romneys wake, and the fate of the euro will descend to its natural level: an expensive joke.
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04/17/12: Silent witness
03/13/12: To pick an American President
12/13/11: American Culture Rides High
10/20/11: Who Can Lead Us To Safety?
08/23/11: Wanted: Global Role Models
07/05/11: Debt: A Moral Issue
06/08/11: The Moral Logic of Intervention
03/10/11: China's Secret Weakness: Is history repeating itself?
02/10/11: Assessing America's Foes
11/29/10: Wanted: Someone to Trust
10/19/10: Are Universities Worth It?
06/01/10: The English Language and Freedom
04/20/10: Listening and Telling the Truth
02/28/10: There Is No Keynesian Miracle
10/20/09: A Job Waiting for a Woman?
07/21/09: Obama Has to Be World Sheriff
03/24/09: Short works of genius that cheer up the writing profession
02/11/09: What would Darwin do?
01/27/09: Are you sophisticated? Here's how to find out
01/06/09: What did they talk about in the Ice Age? The weather, of course
09/09/08: Time, and our appalling ignorance of it
08/19/08: Eye-stopping glimpses of an exotic and forbidden world
06/30/08: How to fill a lecture hall, and how to empty it
06/23/08: Americans should count their blessings
05/20/08: Pajamas for Presidents
05/13/08: Literary woodlice boring needless holes in biographical bedposts
04/01/08: When markets come crashing down, send for the man with the big red nose
04/01/08: Quality for dinner. Pass the Fairy Liquid, Old Boy
03/25/08: In search of an American President with brains and guts
03/18/08: Technological warfare against mice won't work. Try cats
03/11/08: What is a genius? We use the word frequently but surely, to guard its meaning, we should bestow it seldom
03/03/08: Fiction as a crutch to get one through life
02/26/08: Impatience + Greed = Trouble
02/13/08: Shakespeare, Neo-Platonism and Princess Diana
02/07/08: Where Industry Has Failed Us
12/19/07: People who put their trust in human power delude themselves
12/12/07: What is aggression?
12/04/07: Pursuing success is not enough
11/07/07: Are famous writers accident-prone?
10/31/07: Courage needed to disarm Iran
09/20/07: Who Will Say I Promise to Lay Off?
07/24/07: Greed is safer than power-seeking
04/02/07: Benefactors must be hardheaded
03/07/07: American idealism and realpolitik
11/28/06: Space: Our ticket to survival
10/24/06: Envy is bad economics
10/11/06: Better to Borrow or Lend? Rethinking conventional wisdom
08/22/06: Don't practice legal terrorism
08/08/06: A summer rhapsody for a pedal-bike
08/03/06: Why is there no workable philosophy of music?
07/11/06: Historically speaking, energy crisis is America's opportunity
07/06/06: The misleading dimensions of persons and lives
06/06/06: First editions are not gold
05/23/06: A downright ugly man need never despair of attracting women, even pretty
04/25/06: Was Washington right about political parties?
04/12/06: Let's Have More Babies!
04/05/06: For the love of trains
03/29/06: Lincoln and the Compensation Culture
03/22/06: Bottle-beauties and the globalised blond beast
03/15/06: Europe's utopian hangover
03/08/06: Kindly write on only one side of the paper
02/28/06: Creators versus critics
02/21/06: The Rhino Principle
© 2009, Paul Johnson