Jeff Sachs writes:
A failure of economic strategy and leadership lies behind the near simultaneous collapse of market confidence in the euro zone and US economies. No need to blame the rating agencies: governments in Europe and America have been unable to cope with the realities of global capital markets and competition from Asia – and deserve the lion’s share of the blame.
I’ve watched dozens of financial crises up close, and know that success means showing the public a way out that is bold, technically sound and built on social values. Transatlantic leadership is falling short on all counts. Neither the US nor Europe has even properly diagnosed the core problem, namely that both regions are being whipsawed by globalisation.
Jobs for low-skilled workers in manufacturing, and new investments in large swaths of industry, have been lost to international competition. Employment in the US and Europe during the 2000s was held up only by housing construction stoked by low interest rates and reckless deregulation – until the construction bubble collapsed. The path to recovery now lies not in a new housing bubble, but in upgraded skills, increased exports and public investments in infrastructure and low-carbon energy. Instead, the US and Europe have veered between dead-end, consumption-oriented stimulus packages and austerity without a vision for investment.
Sachs outlines three fiscal policies for the US and the EU.
- Expand investments in human and infrastructure capital.
- Cut wasteful spending, for instance in misguided military engagements in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen.
- Balance budgets in the medium term, in no small part through tax increases on high personal incomes and international corporate profits that are shielded by loopholes and overseas tax havens.