Europeiske ledere har problemer med å ta inn over seg den økonomiske krisen. De lever mentalt på etterskudd. Europa ser ut til å stå overfor enda større problemer enn USA, og er mye dårligere forberedt. Det har også strukturelle grunner.
«They are in denial, and hoping that something from the U.S. will come along to help them out,» said Thomas Mayer, chief European economist in London for Deutsche Bank. «The European system isn’t designed for taking the unconventional policy measures that are now needed.»
So far, European stimulus efforts are only a fraction of the size of the comparable American package.
Mayer estimates Washington’s recently approved package of deficit-financed new spending and tax cuts, which is concentrated in the next two years, equals about 6 percent of the annual U.S. gross domestic product. That stands in contrast to 2.6 percent for Germany over a comparable period. Within the euro zone, the average stimulus equals 1 percent to 1.5 percent of GDP.
Deep historical divisions, as well as the complicated new agencies that undergird the European economy, have inhibited a stronger response.
German leaders are wary of what they see as the long-term danger of inflation if they borrow and spend too much, while Germany and other countries in the heart of Europe do not want to shoulder the burden for more troubled economies at the periphery, like Ireland or Greece.
Europas problemer reflekterer at EU ikke er en politisk enhet. Det er samlet økonomisk og monetært, men tenker fortsatt ut fra nasjonale interesser. Vest-Europa ønsker ikke å sette seg i gjeld for å redde Latvia, Hellas, Bulgaria eller Spania.
De gode velferdsordningene fungerer også som en sovepute. Problemene får tid til å vokse.
Når krisen slår inn kan det bli enda vanskeligere å mobilisere støtte i Vest for å redde land i Øst.
Tysk eksport falt med 20 prosent i januar.
Nobelprisvinner Paul Krugman er også bekymret for Europa. Han sier problemene er strukturelle:
The clear and present danger to Europe right now comes from a different direction — the continent’s failure to respond effectively to the financial crisis.
Europe has fallen short in terms of both fiscal and monetary policy: it’s facing at least as severe a slump as the United States, yet it’s doing far less to combat the downturn.
Why is Europe falling short? Poor leadership is part of the story. European banking officials, who completely missed the depth of the crisis, still seem weirdly complacent. And to hear anything in America comparable to the know-nothing diatribes of Germany’s finance minister you have to listen to, well, Republicans.
But there’s a deeper problem: Europe’s economic and monetary integration has run too far ahead of its political institutions. The economies of Europe’s many nations are almost as tightly linked as the economies of America’s many states — and most of Europe shares a common currency. But unlike America, Europe doesn’t have the kind of continentwide institutions needed to deal with a continentwide crisis.
Krugman spør om det var prematurt å innføre euroen, og svarer bekreftende.