Western leadership leaves much to be desired
Huge economic imbalances are weighing on Western economies, while global power shifts threaten the world order. But those are not the problems that leaders in Europe and many politicians in the U.S. have chosen to focus on. Instead, they continue deficit spending to pay for handouts to their supporters and marginalize outsiders who think outside the box. This lack of visionary leadership is a major source of weakness.
Emmanuel Macron’s shrinking revolution
French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to abolish France’s left/right political divide and shake up the country’s bloated bureaucracy. Yet his promised spending and tax cuts have been underwhelming, while his timid attempts to downsize the “layer-cake” administration have only stirred up fierce opposition. Time is running out for Mr. Macron to create a “shock of confidence” to get the economy moving.
2018 Global Outlook: The Euro-Atlantic relationship
The transatlantic relationship can be described as a family matter – with the United States as the mostly benevolent patriarch and Europe as the dependent relatives. Relations had been cooling for at least a decade, but this process is being expedited by the presidency of Donald Trump. Both sides seem to agree that Europe needs to grow up and take charge of its own destiny. If so, we could be headed for a stormy late adolescence.
2018 Global Outlook: Another challenging year for Europe
The European Union is facing internal and external challenges that will continue to test its leadership in 2018. Politicians will struggle to agree on a reform agenda for the union against a background of tepid economic growth, Brexit, the migrant drama, geopolitical realignments, a rethinking of the international role of the United States, technology-driven economic dislocations, secessionist movements, and many other problems. Europe’s outlook is not entirely gloomy, however.
The EU’s tilt toward centralization
The European Commission has proposed creating a European Ministry of Economy and Finance, and transforming the European Stabilization Mechanism into the European Monetary Fund, controlled by Brussels. These steps toward economic centralization are dangerous for Europe’s competitiveness. What it needs is diversity and regional competition.
Is a European Monetary Fund needed?
In December, the European Commission will publish its proposal to establish a European Monetary Fund. From a strictly economic point of view, such a fund is not needed. There are plenty of political reasons, however, with Germany, France and the EC all pursuing their own contradictory goals. That makes it likely that an EMF will eventually be created, even though it will amount to little more than the existing European Stability Mechanism.
Irrational tax and regulatory systems
The true story of the Paradise Papers is less about shady business deals than about the byzantine regulatory and tax structures of developed countries. It is a lesson that politicians like French President Emmanuel Macron are studiously trying to ignore.
Limits on posting workers create Europe’s high-cost cartels
European Union labor ministers have just agreed to a proposal that could see more protectionist measures implemented across the bloc. The new rules would limit employers’ flexibility how much they pay “posted” workers – employees from a different EU member state. Until now, posting workers added needed competition to the labor market. Eliminating that option just protects high-cost cartels created by EU states with excessive cost structures.
Opinion: Putting Europe back on track
These days, it is easy to forget that European integration is a huge success. The founders were right that the free movement of goods and people would bind the continent together and promote peace. But national governments and centralizing democrats have spoiled a good idea through their own timidity and ambition. If the European Union is to play a global role, it must return to its roots.
GIS Dossier: Return of the Daddy State
The aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2008 financial crisis have led to calls for a dramatic increase in the powers of government. Even the ubiquity of internet-based technologies and the populist backlash against political establishments have had the paradoxical effect of promoting centralization. Yet in both politics and economics, there is plenty of evidence that state paternalism is the wrong answer.