Showing posts with label European Debt Crisis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label European Debt Crisis. Show all posts

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Who Will Take That First Step?

When someone like John H. Cochrane, a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute, says the following

Austerity isn’t working in Europe.

We should ALL listen.

His recent piece for Bloomberg  offers some rare flexibility from the right that is worth noting. He begins by noting a very basic reality.

As incomes decline, tax revenue drops, and it becomes harder to cut spending. A downward spiral looms.

This is the crux of why we should all be concerned about flat lining middle class incomes.

He goes on to point out that spending more (something that I have also said) is not the answer.

Where will the money come from? Greece, Spain and Italy simply cannot borrow any more. So, say the Keynesians, Germany should pay. But even Germany has limits. The U.S. can still borrow at remarkably low rates. But remember that Greece was able to borrow at low rates right up to the moment that it couldn’t borrow at all. There is nobody to bail out the U.S. when our time comes. What should we do then?

Also, a very good point. So what's the solution?

Let’s call it “Growth Now.” Forget about “stimulating.” Spend only on what is really needed. We could easily stop subsidies for agriculture, electric cars or building roads and bridges to nowhere right now, without fearing a recession.


Rather than raise taxes further on the “rich,” driving them underground, abroad, or away from business formation, fix the tax code, as every commission has recommended. Lower marginal rates but eliminate the maze of deductions.

I could live with that. It has to be done anyway. Of course, there are difficulties.

“Structural reform” is vital to restore growth now, not a vague idea for many years in the future when the stimulus has worked its magic. It’s also a lot harder politically than the breezy language suggests. “Reform” isn’t just “policy” handed down by technocrats like rules on the provenance of prosciutto; it involves taking away subsidies and interventions that entrenched interests have grown to love, and have supported politicians to protect. They will fight it tooth and nail.

That includes D's, R's and everyone in between.

So, we know what we need to do. Who will be the first person to lead on doing it?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wait, Huh?

Most right wingers I know these days are frothing at the mouth about Europe. It makes sense if you stop and think about it for a moment as it flies on the face of the basic foundation of their "enlightened self interest" ideology. Countries banding together and creating a single currency? Sheesh...might as well start stocking up on the canned goods. If only the markets were allowed to work on their own and government would stay well out of the way, they foam.

Yet, a closer examination of the current woes in Europe reveal a far more complex situation. What a shock. First of all, there's this.

World stock markets, glimpsing hope that Europe might finally be shocked into stronger action, staged a big rally. The Dow Jones industrial average in New York rose almost 300 points. In France, stocks rose 5 percent, the most in a month.

Wait, STRONGER action? I thought markets only responded favorably when governments were laisez faire and shit. So what sort of "stronger action" are we talking about?

One proposal gaining prominence would have countries cede some control over their budgets to a central European authority. In a measure of how rapidly the peril has grown, that idea would have been unthinkable even three months ago.

Allowing a central European authority to have some control over the budgets of sovereign nations would create a fiscal union in Europe in addition to the monetary union of the 17 countries that share the euro currency.

HOLY SHEE-IT!! A central European authority? JAY-SUS H. JOHNSON!!! Time to add a fuck load of guns and ammo to the bunker. There is no doubt in my mind that we're going to start hearing an uptick in paranoid shrieking from this side of the pond about the "Amero."

And I'm still wondering why the free market wants stronger government action.

The problem in Europe has always been that they have a monetary union but not a fiscal one. Certainly, this monetary union has added strength to the idea that economic cooperation prevents military confrontation-something the continent sadly knows all too well. But having a monetary union isn't enough. A fiscal union (as we have here between our states) is also important. If you're going to have one, you have to have the other and that's been the mistake all along.

Now, it's no problem to debate whether it's in their best interests to even have both. On the one had, the EU's combined GDP is greater than ours. On the other, however, decades old squabbles and ancient tax policies seemingly make working together impossible. And there are a myriad of issues in between that warrant serious thought.

Where I draw the line, however, is the paranoia about control. Honestly, it's not even warranted. If there's one thing that this entire crisis has proved, ineptitude, not totalitarianism, is usually what prevails these days when it comes to interstate unification. I mean, we're still working out the kinks on ours out, right?