Man Without Qualities

Monday, June 02, 2003

Naive Was I Ere I Saw Evian

According to the Wall Street Journal:

European and Japanese officials expressed concern that the U.S. is pushing down the already-weak dollar and threatening to snuff out any signs of a global economic recovery. President Bush, despite statements from his Treasury secretary that have helped weaken it, reassured them he is committed to a strong U.S. currency. ...A[n expected ECB interest] rate cut could provide some stimulus for the euro zone's beleaguered economies and add momentum to an economic and stock-market rebound in the U.S., the driver of the world's growth. But if the ECB's action fails to cushion the dollar's fall, the greenback's continued weakness could send struggling Japan and Germany, the world's second- and third-largest economies, into an even longer slump.

Let's see. There's a US Presidential election coming up next year. A softening US dollar will likely help employment and industrial conditions in the US for probably a couple of years. But, dear me, it looks like Germany and Europe generally would be badly hit. Perhaps Germany's development minister, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, let all that slip her mind as she attempted to advance Germany's development by joining "a chorus of criticism in Europe" over coalition forces' failure thus far to find substantial stocks of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.... "We see in the current discussion that it was about oil, it wasn't about weapons of mass destruction."

But, of course, Messrs. Schroeder and Chirac can take complete comfort in the President's advice that what his Administration and Treasury Secretary are doing is contrary to Presidential policy! Yes, over the next couple of years they can count on that reassurance for all it was intended to be - as they count their own unemployment rates.

And, by the way, why was it just fine for the world when the Euro fell about 20% from its original value against the US dollar? But for the US dollar to decline to about where it was at the creation of the Euro - never mind a bit below that - is a looming global economic catastrophe? Europe is seeking and asserting its economic superpower status. Isn't it about time for the Europeans and the rest of the world to stop arguing that the US has special asymmetric obligations as the "engine of world growth?" Isn't it time that Europe got off its collective and collectivized welfare-state duff and started acting like an economic superpower - say, by restructuring itself to be more economically efficient and "engine-like"?

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