Forum — From the February 2014 issue

How Germany Reconquered Europe

The euro and its discontents

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Since the financial collapse of 2008, Americans of all political persuasions have been frustrated both by the tepid recovery and by the political dysfunction that seems to get in the way every time the economy looks ready to turn itself around. But there’s another region where recovery has been even weaker and political dysfunction arguably even worse. Europe has faced its first major economic crisis since its post–Cold War integration and its subsequent adoption of a common currency. The continent — long admired by American liberals as the home of a more just social order — has embraced fiscal austerity to a far greater degree than has the United States, with drastic budget cuts for poorer member nations such as Greece and Portugal.

For observers in the United States, Europe’s struggles raise many questions. Can a united Europe survive — and should it? Does European integration represent the transcendence of the continent’s bloody twentieth century, or its continuation by other means? Has a project begun in a spirit of liberty, equality, and fraternity turned authoritarian, hierarchical, and antagonistic? If the union is as bad as its critics claim, why does it remain so popular in many member nations? And how will the future of Europe affect that of the United States?

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Chair in Government/Business Relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas, Austin

 

Associate for Germany at the Open Society Initiative for Europe

 

Emeritus Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics

 

Max Weber Chair in German and European Studies at New York University

 

Author of Harper’s Anti-Economist column

 

Historian, social anthropologist, and political scientist at the National Institute of Demographic Studies, Paris

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  • Mike

    Galbraith is ridiculous — the voice of Yankee corporate Hierarchy. The last thing that the American corporatate dictatorship wants to see succeed is EU style social democracy. The EU as a country is one third the size of the USA and supports 42% more citizens. They live longer, their cities are cleaner, there isn’t a homeless group standing on every street corner — the public transportation is better — i can go on and on. Yet Galbraith is sure the EU is going to fail. Balony!

  • Alex

    Does anyone else see that the “euro crisis” was caused by the Wall Street/London banking cartel? The whole point of the housing bubble (not just in the US, but also Ireland, Spain, etc.) was to create fraudulent, time- bomb derivatives (MBS CDOs) and sell them to peripheral European governments (especially Greece), pension funds, etc., knowing that when the housing bubble burst, the CDOs would default and plunge the EU into crisis. I’m quite sure this was a plot to break up the EU and destroy the
    euro (and make Germany look like the bad guy for not bailing everybody
    out). Anyone else see this?

  • christopher mahoney

    There is an easy solution to the eurozone’s problems: monetarism. See the following from Lars Christensen:

    http://marketmonetarist.com/2013/03/29/a-simple-monetary-policy-rule-to-end-the-euro-crisis/

  • dp

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