Tag Archives: Europe

A New Political Narrative For Europe

By Massimiliano Santini – In August, Bono, lead singer of U2, wrote an editorial on Europe in which he pointed out that it may not be romantic or sexy but Europe is “much more than just a geography… [its values and aspirations] go to the core of who we are as human beings, and who we want to be. That idea of Europe deserves songs written about it, and big bright blue flags to be waved about.”

Today, many Europeans do not share that visionary idea of Europe. Instead, they feel more represented by a narrative that has portrayed the European project as a bureaucratic monolith, ruled by an élite of technocrats who are focused on their self-preservation rather than people’s real interests. People view Europe as the villain: an antagonistic force imposing harsh rules that must be respected for their own sake. But where does this narrative come from?

A new type of clear, succinct, and engaging political narrative ought to mix and match existing policy solutions and offer a vision of the world that helps people interpret the present and envision the future with hope, as opposed to nostalgia. more>

How Europe became so rich

BOOK REVIEW

A Culture of Growth: Origins of the Modern Economy, Author: Joel Mokyr.
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Author: Edward Gibbon.

In a time of great powers and empires, just one region of the world experienced extraordinary economic growth. How?
By Joel Mokyr – How and why did the modern world and its unprecedented prosperity begin?

One of the oldest and most persuasive explanations is the long political fragmentation of Europe. For centuries, no ruler had ever been able to unite Europe the way the Mongols and the Mings had united China.

It should be emphasized that Europe’s success was not the result of any inherent superiority of European (much less Christian) culture.

It was rather what is known as a classical emergent property, a complex and unintended outcome of simpler interactions on the whole. The modern European economic miracle was the result of contingent institutional outcomes. It was neither designed nor planned. But it happened, and once it began, it generated a self-reinforcing dynamic of economic progress that made knowledge-driven growth both possible and sustainable.

How did this work? In brief, Europe’s political fragmentation spurred productive competition. It meant that European rulers found themselves competing for the best and most productive intellectuals and artisans. The economic historian Eric L Jones called this ‘the States system’.

The costs of European political division into multiple competing states were substantial: they included almost incessant warfare, protectionism, and other coordination failures. Many scholars now believe, however, that in the long run the benefits of competing states might have been larger than the costs. In particular, the existence of multiple competing states encouraged scientific and technological innovation. more>

Fixing Europe

BOOK REVIEW

And the weak suffer what they must? Author: Yanis Varoufakis.

By Noel Grima – It has not been an easy summer for Europe. First the many terrorist attacks in France and in Germany. Now this earthquake in Italy. And, above anything, Brexit.

Each successive meeting of European leaders (and also those of finance ministers) ends with an announcement that a fix has been found, a new structure has been added on, and yet the deep fundamental issues that undermine the euro have not yet been tackled.

The real villain of the book is Richard Nixon and his Treasury Secretary John Connally and Under-Secretary Paul Volcker.

On 15 August 1971 they told an unsuspecting Europe that the US would be dismantling the global monetary system it had created and maintained for many years. In effect, it was pulling out the rug from under Europe’s feet.

Europe was in a way to blame for this, for the preceding years had shown many times that Europe was coming to chafe under the US hegemony. So the US pulled the plug from the Bretton Woods agreement which had fixed the US dollar against a fixed amount of gold.

Since then, since this American rejection, the European leaders have been engaged in a series of knee-jerk reactions that – 40 years later – have led the euro to the brink of collapse. We can read about everything that came later – the European Monetary System, the snake, the euro – as so many knee-jerk reactions to the US 1971 decision. more> http://goo.gl/47OC8b

A small problem in Germany

By Theodoros Benakis – The view in many parts of Brussels is that the future of Europe, at least for the next few years, will not be decided by the ever more unpopular elections for the European parliament in 2014, but by the German electorate on 22 September.

According to the leaders of The Alternative, the euro has failed as a currency. As an alternative to the Mark, they could accept a two class euro.

A first class ‘saints euro’, the currency of the rich and budgetary ordered countries. A second class ‘sinners euro’ of the poor, good for the South and any budgetary ‘weak’ country. more> http://tinyurl.com/pwjtcr8