Fixing Europe

Rock star French economist Thomas Piketty has an op-ed in The Guardian you might want to take a look at. He proposes radical changes to European Union governance guided by what is to my eye and, presumably, the eyes of most Americans something pretty obvious: for a common currency to work there must also be a common fiscal policy. And a common fiscal policy requires a democratic European legislature:

It is time to recognise that Europe’s existing institutions are dysfunctional and need to be rebuilt. The central issue is simple: democracy and the public authorities must be enabled to regain control of and effectively regulate 21st century globalised financial capitalism. A single currency with 18 different public debts on which the markets can freely speculate, and 18 tax and benefit systems in unbridled rivalry with each other, is not working, and will never work. The eurozone countries have chosen to share their monetary sovereignty, and hence to give up the weapon of unilateral devaluation, but without developing new common economic, fiscal and budgetary instruments. This no man’s land is the worst of all worlds.

I think this brings something into relief that appears to be lost on the progressive Americans who lionize Dr. Piketty. His main interest is Europe and his assumptions and prescriptions are targeted at a European audience intent on fixing European problems.

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