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He’s not quite there. Yes, they need a ‘fiscal authority’ but he doesn’t see it’s function as providing the deficit spending necessary to sustain output and growth, though his mention of ‘currency printing’ could be stretched to suggest that. Instead, the focus is on collecting taxes to fund itself:

Agree. Eastern Europe is a huge problem and again much depends on what the Fed does because the ECB can only underwrite this stuff to the extent that the Fed will continue to offer the ECB unlimited swap facilities. Sarkozy gets this. He now recognizes the Achilles Heel at the heart of the EMU:

Speaking to the European Parliament on Tuesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that an “economic government” partnering with the European Central Bank (ECB) was necessary for the continuation of the 15-nation eurozone — the collection of nations within the European Union that uses the euro as currency.

The financial and banking imbroglio consuming Europe has emphasized how the EU and specifically the eurozone — although impressive and supranational — are nonetheless unprepared for, and incapable of handling, wide-ranging economic crises. The European Union is not a superstate, despite the accusations of its detractors or the wishful thinking of its supporters. It does not have a unified decision-making authority on most policy issues except for those concerning the functioning of its common market, and those are primarily non-political.

The establishment of the eurozone is an impressive feat in its own right. It binds together 15 economies within the 27-member union with a common currency and a common central bank. However, the ECB and the eurozone in general lack a number of competencies that, if ever implemented, would have impinged on national sovereignty but would have also made monetary and economic sense. These include taxation, currency “printing”, decision-making on where to funnel funds in times of crises and European-wide bank regulation.

In times of plenty — which the eurozone has experienced for the most part since its inception — it may seem sufficient that the authority of the ECB is strictly limited to keeping inflation under 2 percent (a role inherited from its direct ancestor the German Deutsche Bundesbank). However, the current crisis illustrates the deficiency of this system. Without supranational taxation, the eurozone does not have the ability to make liquidity infusions into the system directly — it simply does not have any real cash of its own. In fact, Europeans have had to depend on the U.S. Federal Reserve for capital through unlimited dollar funds made available Oct. 13. A credit-starved Europe had to draw $250 billion — with hundreds of billions more potentially outstanding — on the first day the Fed announced that swaps would be unlimited.

Even with a taxation system that would supply the ECB with its own pool of funds, someone would still have to make a political decision regarding receivership of those funds.

Sarkozy may have tried to allay these fears by using the word “economic” — highlighting that the authority would not extend beyond the policy realm currently being rocked by the financial crisis. This is a valiant marketing effort for sure, but in reality one cannot separate the political and the economic “government”, especially if the eurozone receives authority over taxation or the ECB becomes responsible for deciding which banks get bailed out or which industries receive loans. Were the Europeans willing to go this far in giving up national sovereignty, they would have done it already.


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2 Responses

  1. “to sustain output and growth”

    My granny had 11 kids. Her daughters had about 2 kids. Almost all of her granddaughters had no kids. I am confused Warren, I tell feminazi shopping machines all the time about these memes you have about sustaining output and growth and they slap my face off – I walk up to your daughter Sada and say let’s do the horizontal tango and she start censoring my posts and gets very offended – but I am just trying to do what you and my granny taught me – sustain output and growth and make lots of babies. I still haven’t figured out how unlimited productivity growth makes the corn grow in my field when no women are having babies and there are no workers to go harvest the corn – that must be some of that “new math” I always hear quant guys talking about.

  2. The great god Jehovah was the ultimate sustaining “output and growth” economist Warren – if you read your Bible he had one command before all others – “go forth and multiply”

    I tell this to all my girlfriends and they tell me to drop dead and that they are like Ayn Rand, they don’t need no stinking rugrat babies – they have their books – and I ask them but how does your books sustain output and growth – books can’t take care of you when you are old and sick and need someone to harvest your corn – and then they slap my face off for making them deal with reality – then they steal my credit card and go on a shopping trip – ugg. I don’t think God is happy that all his Eve’s have chosen to spit on his first commandment and stop sustaining output and growth and stop going forth and multiplying. You taught Sada to have many babies didn’t you Daddy Warren? You want her to sustain output and growth right?

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