Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer time reading

For the sake of brevity we're excerpting sections of Walter Russell Mead's essay titled, "The Top Ten Lessons of the Global Economic Meltdown."

2. Liberal capitalism works.

If half the world’s commentators and pundits spent the last 18 months announcing the collapse of American power, many of the rest spent their time hailing the death of the American capitalist model: Piratical ‘Anglo-Saxon’ capitalism was obviously less effective than the more civilized, more humanistic model of, say, Europe. Wrong again. The crisis did what crises usually do: it tested the world’s companies, governments and currencies to see what they were made of. The preliminary results of that test are now in, and the United States again looks surprisingly healthy. The dollar held up well during the crash; when the chips were down investors still thought America was the best place for their money. America’s flexible labor markets meant that a lot of people lost their jobs, but also that the recovery would start more quickly here. The overwhelming lesson of the crash for Europeans is that they need to accelerate Europe’s slow and painful shift toward a more liberal form of capitalism. Europe’s socialist parties in Spain and Greece are introducing hated liberal reforms because, as Margaret Thatcher put it long ago, “there is no alternative.”

From the very beginning, it was recognized that we borrowed (beyond our means) and spent (beyond our means) to get ourselves into this mess. As such, it was immediately recognized by the sane and rational among us that we could not simply hit "repeat" and expect that to lift us out of this mess. Even Europe gets this while our Harvard educated overseers believe themselves too wise for such mundane and pedestrian common sense.

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