Monday, October 06, 2008

So Long (For Maybe a Week), Schadenfreude

The snickering seems to have stopped for now, as people in the larger European states discover that their own banks are more heavily leveraged than they are in the US, and don't see much hope for a comprehensive commitment by governments to keep them liquid.

I'm sure we'll soon be hearing how Europe tanks with more undefinable élan and panache:

Continental Europe is heading for a deeper recession than the US as it lacks the necessary flexibility to react to the worsening economic situation, according to leading executives and policymakers.
To a degree due to the slow pace of innovation that respective populations are willing to accept, they have grown more flexible over the past decade. But will that be enough? Not likely without abandoning some of the loonier transnational campaigns such as imagining that a miracle will give them a way to largely convert to biofules and renewables, and all manner of social interventions. That easiest ones to back down off of will be the ones that were symbolic to begin with – in fact the contraction may provide a pretext to abandon some of the stranger, less achievable commitments.

After all, these are the conditions where Europeans have in the past gotten very self-protective, and often very ugly – historically, these are the times the labor strikes have become larger in scope and more debilitating, just when they do the most harm to the conditions that would hasten recovery.
Executives and policymakers are worried that Europe did not use the good times of the past few years to push through much-needed reform in areas such as labour flexibility. Companies across Europe from Daimler and Siemens to KPMG and Unicredit are bracing themselves for the slowdown by cutting jobs, production and recruitment. This comes as growth in Europe has plummeted after a strong first quarter to lead many analysts to think several continental economies are already close to recession.
Or IN recession as the Irish, Icelanders, and Greek governments were straightforward enough to readily admit, just as they've been up front about their tides and turns over the past 18 months.
Many European companies had banked on growth from emerging markets such as Russia and China to compensate for weakness in Europe. “I think times are tough no matter how international you are,” said the chief executive of a leading German company. “Nobody really knows what will happen. But if you were a betting man I don’t think you would go for Europe over the US.”
Meanwhile, the predictable blame game, that need to pummel some figure of authority over something the public at large doesn't get, begins.

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