The Europeans love to recount the following joke:
Heaven is a place where the police are British, the cooks French, the mechanics German, the lovers Italian, and it is all organized and run by the Swiss.
Hell is a place where the police are German, the cooks British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss, and it is all organized and run by the Italians.
I’d add Americans as currency experts to the latter. Tim Geithner is attempting to rally the G-20 in a move reminiscent of the chess club captain attempting to rally varsity football. His encouragement seems plaintive and small, not unlike the man himself.
“G-20 countries should commit to undertake policies consistent with reducing external imbalances below a specified share of GDP over the next few years.”
Wow, “below a specified share of GDP over the next few years.” Way to raise the roof. The Wall Street Journal reports the GDP share to be 4%, which would require saving and investment and massive debt reduction. Anyone else see a problem with Geithner’s argument?
The administration to which he belongs is doing the exact opposite of what he himself now calls for (maybe not in word, but certainly in deed). The wisdom of doing so is certainly open to debate (and has been debated over and over and over again), but it makes it tough to lead by example. Massive stimulus and health care spending in a nod to European-style social democracy just as the French are (once again) burning their berets, cravats and black-and-white stripped shirts. All over a two-year increase in the retirement age. It would benefit Geithner to match more words with deeds. For now, I’ll throw up my hands and simply shout incroyable.