Europe

Playing Musical Chairs with World Economies

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The world’s largest economies seem engaged in something like the children’s game of “musical chairs.” For years, the United States has been the world’s largest national economy, though in recent decades the integrated economy of the European Union has challenged that claim given that the region   includes four of the ten top national economies, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy. The most recent data, reflecting the deep European recession, indicates that the top position has been retaken by the United States.  read more »

The Dutch Rethink the Welfare State

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When the Netherlands’ newly coronated king made his first annual appearance before parliament, he turned some heads when he addressed the deficiencies of the Dutch welfare state.   “Due to social developments such as globalisation and an ageing population, our labour market and public services are no longer suited to the demands of the times”, the king said in a speech written by Liberal prime minister Mark Ruttes cabinet. “The classical welfare state is slowly but surely evolving into a ‘participation society’”, Willem-Alexander continued. By this he meant that the public systems should start encouraging self-reliance over government dependency.  read more »

Is America Flying Europe's Flag?

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Consider the recent government shutdown as a disagreement about how much influence Europe should have on the continuing American revolution. Who would have predicted that, more than 237 years after the United States threw off the English yoke, disagreement over European approaches to life and government would be strong enough to shutter the democratic experiment, or downgrade the nation's credit? And yet, Congress is divided, as it was in 1797, between Royalist Republicans and Jacobin Democrats, arguing about which model of government best suits the young and restless American republic.  read more »

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Is Scandinavia Female Friendly?

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Scandinavia is often hailed as the best place on the planet for women. Yet in reality --- despite being frontrunners in gender equality --- Nordic countries have not been so successful when judged by women’s career progress.  read more »

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Is Portugal Facing a “Shortage Of Japanese"?

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So, about the slow growth/debt connection: I’ve done a quick and dirty mini-RR for the period 1950-2007 ……focusing only on the G7……and if you look at it, you see that most of the apparent relationship is coming from Italy and Japan……And it’s quite clear from the history that both Italy and (especially) Japan ran up high debts as a consequence of their growth slowdowns, not the other way around.” – Paul Krugman, Reinhart-Rogoff, Continued  read more »

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America's True Power In The NAFTA Century

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OK, I get it. Between George W. Bush and Barack Obama we have made complete fools of ourselves on the international stage, outmaneuvered by petty lunatics and crafty kleptocrats like Russia’sVladimir Putin. Some even claim we are witnessing “an erosion of world influence” equal to such failed states as the Soviet Union and the French Third Republic.  read more »

Swedish Lessons for Obama

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During his upcoming visit to Sweden, President Barack Obama will surely praise the nation’s combination of high living standards, few social problems, and high level of income equality. What he may not recognize -- although he should -- is that the astonishing social and economic outcomes in Sweden and other Nordic countries have more to do with a unique culture among homogenous populations than with simply following a recipe of social democratic policies.  read more »

America Hanging in There Better Than Rivals

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To paraphrase the great polemicist Thomas Paine, these are times that try the souls of optimists. The country is shuffling through a very weak recovery, and public opinion remains distinctly negative, with nearly half of Americans saying China has already leapfrogged us and nearly 60 percent convinced the country is headed in the wrong direction. Belief in the political leadership of both parties stands at record lows, not surprisingly, since we are experiencing what may be remembered as the worst period of presidential leadership, under both parties, since the pre-Civil War days of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan.  read more »

Major Metropolitan Areas in Europe

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Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Commission (European Union) now designates metropolitan areas (Note) for the European Union (EU) and the European Three Trade Association (EFTA). The EU has 28 members, having just added Croatia, while the EFTA has 4 members.  read more »

Should Uncle Sam Chase a Scandinavian Model?

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When American progressives dream their future vision of America, no place entices them more than the sparsely populated countries of Scandinavia. After all, here are countries that remain strongly democratic and successfully capitalist, yet appear to have done so despite enormously pervasive welfare systems.  read more »