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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Europe continued

I am actually decently busy at work, so let's keep this short, even if it would be fun to engage in something a bit more fundamental. (IPE)

Europe as a whole does not have a military of course (the battle groups are ready by now, but let's pass on that). It is not true that Europe always has been divided on these issues (even if I of course adhere to the more general point that this is too frequently, if not to say usually, the case), Afghanistan seems to be the most striking counter example. The point I was trying to make here is that Europe's militaries would suffice to act against virtually everyone (with a few notable exceptions that apply to the US as well). Basically, Europe's armies are powerless only when compared to the US and why should Europe even try to compete with its closest ally?

It is clear that the provision of security for Europe by the US has greatly widened the range of possibilities for European social policy decision-making. Europe paid back through a lack of foreign policy independence though (Suez being only the most prominent example).

I did realize that the post was mainly geared towards economics, I guess I just enjoy looking at security and foreign policy more. Anyways. I think it is important to note that most people in Europe don't believe in the necessity of more fiscal stimulus (rightly or wrongly - I tend to believe they are wrong, but that's besides the point really). They are not asking the US to provide further stimulus to their economy even if they will take the continuing exports of course (and the German obliviousness to their problematic status as Exportweltmeister shall not even be further explored). The crisis is seen as having originated in the US alone (again, rightly or wrongly, I tend to believe there is a point to this, but again, that doesn't really matter) and people ask themselves why they should help bail out an unregulated overly-capitalistic giant (it would be a pretty hard political sell as well btw). I am not quite sure then whether it can be called free-riding if you do something I don't think I necessarily need, even when it benefits me to some extent.

The IMF:
diplomats say that the strongest opposition to thorough IMF reforms currently comes from the US – reluctant to give up its de facto ability to veto IMF decisions – rather than Europe. (CER)

I don't remember where I read this, but the US also refuses to discuss supranational structures in order to oversee the international financial system (which is not surprising considering the differing attitudes (modern/post-modern) in the US and Europe). I thus simply have a hard time seeing how the American position is more cooperative than the European one. You can of course argue that the European positions are wrong and that Europe should come around to the American ones, but that's not cooperation anymore then. In fact that'd smell suspiciously like the same old (admittedly benign) coercion.

1 comment:

Kindred Winecoff said...

i wasn't arguing that the US is more open to cooperation than Europe. I was merely arguing that Europe is following a pattern of free-riding on the US perpetuated by the US, complaining when things go bad, and free-riding when the US tries to bail out the system.

should Europe go along with coordinated international stimulus? they should if they want cooperation on financial regulation, or maintenance of an open trading system, or a greater role in the IMF, or a greater reserve role for the Euro, or more dollar liquidity for balance of payments transactions, or any number of other items on their wish list. instead, they seem content to snipe from the sidelines, accept the positive spillovers from the US/UK stimulus without incurring any of the cost.

this may work once or twice, but eventually the US may decide that they can get along better with the BRICs. and given the demographic and economic trends in Europe, their traditional position of economic influence seems likely to decline in favor of the rising powers.