Oh, how the tides have turned: Europe no longer laughing at US 

‘The world is too much with us,” lamented Wordsworth more than a century ago. He had in mind too much “getting and spending,” of which we could use a bit more of these days. Workers would be happier getting a bit more, and businesses would cheer at additional spending.

But in a different sense, the world is indeed too much with us. Iran proceeds with the development of nuclear weapons, no matter how many olive branches and outstretched hands President Barack Obama offers.

China believes, with some reason, that as our biggest creditor it ought to have something to say about our fiscal policy, and doesn’t stop there: It insists that the president make sure that the Dalai Lama does not set foot in the Oval Office.

France believes our model of capitalism is broken and wants to have the dollar replaced as the world’s reserve currency, never mind that the future of its own euro is threatened by Greek profligacy.

Venezuela’s president-for-life (he hopes), Hugo Chavez, wants all traces of American influence removed from Latin America, but wants us to continue buying his oil.

The Europeans, or most of them, consider us too reliant on military power, but want us to provide the airlift their teeny forces need for an emergency in their backyard.

Part of this is envy. The European economic recovery has stalled, and projections are that their economies might not even manage 1 percent growth this year.

Meanwhile, they stare at reports that the American economy grew at an annual rate of close to 6 percent in the last quarter of 2009, and hear Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke predict near-term growth on the order of 3 to 4 percent.

So much for why the world is too much with us or, more precisely, against us.

Meanwhile, all is gloom in Europe. The discovery that Greece’s deficit is closer to 13 percent than to its reported 3 percent has placed a real strain on the euro. Britain, which quite sensibly refused to scupper its own currency for the euro, also is having difficulties.

This means the euro and the pound are sinking, and the dollar once again has some purchasing power overseas.

The conversations we can have with our European hosts are now different from those of only a year or so ago.

So, if you can tolerate several snide remarks about Sarah Palin, and have a few spare bucks, now might be the time to take a long-postponed visit to the wonders of a once-relevant part of the globe.

Examiner columnist Irwin M. Stelzer is a senior fellow and director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Economic Policy Studies.

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Irwin Stelzer


It is good fun to be associated with an organization that is willing to challenge the position of a "monopoly newspaper."

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