agosto 21, 2010

A consciência de culpa está a paralizar a Europa

Europe is not aging gracefully. More than half a century after it began taking the steps that eventually resulted in the European Union, it is at best a vast market without a consistent military or political personality—and one that matters less and less in world affairs. Henry Kissinger’s old witticism about Europe’s having no phone number is more relevant than ever. What happened? One can cite a number of factors: the persistence of nationalist egoism; the excessive importance of the EU’s two major founders, France and Germany; Great Britain’s aloofness and readiness to follow Washington’s instructions; the imbalance created by the influx of former Soviet satellites. But more decisive than any of these reasons is that since the end of World War II, Europe has been tormented by a need to repent. [..]

Ver artigo de Pascal Bruckner no City Journal

agosto 09, 2010

Leviathan, sa: o regresso do estado ao mundo dos negócios

Listen carefully, and you may detect a giant sucking sound across the rich world. In the 1990s this was the sound protectionists in the United States thought (wrongly) would accompany jobs disappearing to Mexico as a result of a free-trade deal. This time, too, there are big worries about jobs and growth, but the source of the noise is different, and real enough: it comes from the tentacles of the state, reaching into more and more areas of business in an effort to get the economy moving. It is the sound of Leviathan Inc.

Politicians are reviving the notion that intervening in individual industries and companies can drive growth and create jobs (see article). It is not just the usual suspects—although it is true that France, the land of Colbert, is busy taking stakes in toy manufacturers, video-sharing websites and fallen national champions. Elsewhere in Europe, from Berlin to Brussels, demand for industrial policy is back. Japan’s new government is responding to what it sees as the increasingly aggressive policies of foreign competitors by deepening the links between business and the state. In America Barack Obama, the effective owner of General Motors and a chunk of Wall Street, has turned his back on the laissez-faire approach of the past: a strategic-industries initiative is under way.

Although an understandable panic over economic growth in the rich world explains much of the state’s new meddling in business, other forces are at work as well. After the finance and property bubbles some influential companies—such as EADS and Rolls-Royce in the aerospace industry—are pressing for policies that support manufacturing. Bail-outs and billions of stimulus spending, however justified at the time, got government back into the habit of intervention. The case of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, America’s housing-finance giants, illustrates both the perils of state meddling (implicit state guarantees distorted the mortgage market with fatal consequences) and the difficulty of giving it up: having rescued the pair, the federal government lacks any plan to pull out.

Ver artigo no The Economist