11 October 2012

Seeking Friendship

I often wish political commentators would stay away from economic policy. Take Philip Stevens in today's FT for example. In a column arguing that Mr Cameron should kiss and make up with Mrs Merkel he makes the claim that:
 On the big economic issues – the single market, competitiveness and budget discipline – it (Germany) holds positions quite close to those of Britain.
Which is true except that on the single market, Britain is openly questioning one of its four pillars, the free movement of people. (The other pillars are the free movement of goods, services and capital.) A point recognised elsewhere in the article. On competitiveness, Germany takes a mercantilist view while Britain take a free-trade liberal view. If those positions seem  quite close then I would direct you to a book Adam Smith wrote setting out the differences. As to budget discipline, Germany has adopted a balanced budget amendment to its constitution and is pushing the policy on other eurozone states. Britain's stated policy is to abolish the structural deficit; a balanced budget law is a lunacy too far for Britain's government.

He ignores the biggest economic issues of the day, reform of finance and the consequences of monetary union. On these there is no meeting of minds.

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