A Bicycle Built For Who?

Watching the G-20 summit and listening to the gathered heads of state makes many wince. After all, the Europeans always complain about the U.S.-our markets, our politics-but they never seem to pick up the slack themselves.

There’s the German tight-fistedness about budgets, and French intransigence about the military. Never mind that when the government is already half your economy, it’s hard to expand. The U.S. pays for the profits necessary to develop innovative drugs and consumer goods that Europeans are happy to consume. Now we’re supposed to pay for their economic bailout, too.

Like a slacker sitting on the back seat of a tandem bicycle, the Europeans protest that they’re pedaling as hard as they can. After all, their populations are shrinking, they don’t have a reserve currency, and national stimulus often leaks over the borders.
But Europe could develop a real military, liberalize its immigration policies, and free up its money markets. But they won’t. Because it’s always easier to criticize than to do it yourself.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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