December 11, 2011

Merkel: A conservative but no neolib - good!

The European Union (minus, perhaps, London's financial sector) probably should be grateful for that, too. And, if Merkel's plans for the how and why of EU reform are correct, the rest of the developed world, including non-neoliberals/financial conservatives in the U.S., should also be grateful.

The New York Times has a good news/news analysis piece that's basically a "face off" set-up of German Chancellor Angela Merkel vs. U.S. President Barack Obama.

It's clear she, and she as representative of German thought, thinks less of financiers than does Obama (or British Prime Minister David Cameron). And, while Team Obama may be right that she's overly indulgent of traditional German fears of a repeat of 1920s hyperinflation rather than Germany's own serious hit of the Depression in the early 1930s that brought Hitler to power, Team Obama is wrong about much of the rest.

That includes the U.S. having a relatively lax attitude toward "moral hazard" of financiers. (By the way, for the biggest of the big in the U.S., that is NOT a new attitude, tea partiers, etc. It goes back a full century or more. JPMorganChase's various predecessors got nearly a dozen government bailouts of different types. In turn, in 1907, and before, old man Morgan himself led a pre-Federal Reserve "bailout" of the federal government.

Even if the likes of Merkel aren't totally right, they're right enough on this issue. We need Merkel to succeed, to be a counterweight to U.S. neolliberalism. And, if the British version of neoliberalism ultimately gets ground beneath the wheel of the new EU, in the long run, or even medium run, it might be better for Britain, too.

Given that both the U.S.and China have grown their economies through often bubbly methods, the more stereotypically stolid German way might just be the way to go more.

And, while I'm not going to deny that Krugman has legitimate concerns about austerity, I still think that calling the current situation a "depression" is probably a bit hyperbolic. The fact is that, in the better-off areas of the eurozone, unemployment is a lot lower than here. As for the PIIGS countries in Europe? Portugal's nor horrible. Italy actually has lower unemployment than the U.S. Ireland is not good, but ... let's see in the next year.

Greece? Let it leave the Eurozone. That said, it never should have been let in, to be honest. Spain? A fair amount of its housing bubble was British-caused. Strange that David Cameron doesn't talk much about that.


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