In the global debate about the Eurozone crisis, Germany has come in for a lot of criticism. The German position has been described as engaging in a “morality tale” (aimed at forcing other countries to pay back their debts). Alternatively, it is regarded a display of “nationalism” (by just pursuing narrow Germany’s interests) – if not as practicing “hegemony” (by seeking to impose a German model onto the rest of Europe).
I am struck by how much these descriptions – juicy as they are in purely journalistic terms – miss what really drives the German government. To see what the real driving force is, just ask yourself this question: Why do Germans talk so much about the need for structural reforms in Europe?
German policymakers are painfully aware that, among the advanced economies, there is one major country where structural reforms – such a touchy matter in Europe – really are no political issue. That country is the United States.
Role model for Europe?
The U.S. has the immeasurable advantage that embracing change on an ongoing basis is simply built into its national DNA. Nobody there is asking for permission to engage in it. Change is simply happening all the time.
Much of the same is true in many of the dynamic emerging markets, especially in Asia. Like it or not, those are realities Europe has to contend with. Continue reading