European Engine is Sputtering

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The pressures from intensified global competition were mainly felt in two interconnected macroeconomic areas: output growth and unemployment. Output growth in the core of Europe, the Euro-area, has been well below that of the U.S. and Asia for some time now, including on a per-capita basis. This reflects especially slow growth in domestic demand where neither household consumption nor fixed investment have made a significant recovery. The flip-side of this weak growth, of course, has been high unemployment—in the 8-percent range in recent years, with only moderate improvement in sight. The picture looks even dimmer when one considers the related but more economically relevant concept of labor utilization, where the core of Europe is showing a steady decline in the number of hours worked per person, both in absolute terms and relative to the other two engines of world growth—the U.S. and Asia.

And there is some concern that Europe may respond to these pressures in the wrong way. Protectionism is an ever-present threat that comes in many guises. European agricultural and trade policies have not opened up sufficiently rapidly to the rest of the world, and the tribulations in the Doha round do not promise a significant turnaround in this respect. Stubborn restrictions on the free movement of labor is another example. Indeed, despite recent progress, the free movement of labor is not yet present throughout the European Community itself. This is clearly evident in the very difficult and protracted special arrangements remaining for workers from the new Eastern European member states. The fact, however, is that protectionism eventually is a self-defeating policy. In the case of labor protection, the more Europe is successful at preventing competitive labor from coming in, the more successful it will also be in motivating expensive capital to move out. Capital is increasingly mobile and will go where markets are most dynamic and where labor is relatively inexpensive. By erecting barriers in various ways (this could be for labor, goods, or services), domestic investment will remain weak and output growth will remain low.”

Takatoshi Kato, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund at the 36th St. Gallen Symposium: Inspiring Europe

Related Links:

The podcasts from the symposium.

Radioeconomics interview with Francesco Daveri, Professor of Economics, University of Parma (Italy), onthe causes of productivity growth across industries in countries in Italy and Western Europe ($ required).

Europe's future; What is wrong with Europe? The main answer is, as it has been for some years, the economy. Especially but not only in the core euro countries of Germany, France and Italy, growth has been sluggish, at best. In many countries unemployment seems both high and stuck. The morosity that underlay the French and Dutch noes was primarily about growth and jobs.

Two working papers on intergenerational mobility-
American Exceptionalism in a new light: a comparison of intergenerational earnings mobility in the Nordic countries, the UK and the US and Nonlinearities in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility: consequences for cross-country comparisons; New research led by economists at the University of Warwick reveals that many Western societies that pride themselves on being lands of opportunity are anything but. The reality is that most countries show a strong connection between a father and son's earnings and this factor is more important in the United States than in any of the other country studied. Yet the curious thing is that European society—at least in the Nordic countries—is far less stable than America's. Two new research papers confirm that, if one compares the incomes of children with those of their parents, or considers how long people in one income group stay there, Nordic countries emerge as far more mobile than America. Britain shows more class stability than its northern neighbours, but it is still a lot closer to them than it is to America

Is the European Union Constitution Dead? Gianfranco Pasquino, professor of political science, University of Bologna

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As it happens, I just got back from a trip to Germany. That place is BOOMING - at least Berlin and Hamburg. Also, Germany remains the world's largest exporting nation (a clear refutation of the notion that manufacturing jobs "must" migrate to low-wage Asian countries).

So what's all this about weakness and low morale?

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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on May 25, 2006 10:40 PM.

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