Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bret Stephans in WSJ: Wish I'd Said That!

Here is Bret Stephans on the world economy and EU-nuch notables crowing over the US financial troubles with their usual Schadenfreude---I love it when the GERMANS accuse the US of trying to take over the world!! [Just rented Downfall, and got lots of Schadenfreude myself at the glorious demise of Adolf and his unheroic cowardly crew in THE BUNKER]. Here's some of Bret's pellucid analysis:
when the tide laps at Gulliver's waistline, it usually means the Lilliputians are already 10 feet under. Before yesterday's surge, the Dow had dropped 25% in three months. But that only means it had outperformed nearly every single major foreign stock exchange, including Germany's XETRADAX (down 28%) China's Shanghai exchange (down 30%), Japan's NIKK225 (down 37%), Brazil's BOVESPA (down 41%) and Russia RTSI (down 61%). These contrasts are a useful demonstration that America's financial woes are nobody else's gain.

On the other hand, global economic distress doesn't invariably work at cross-purposes with American interests. Hugo Chávez's nosedive toward bankruptcy begins when oil dips below $80 a barrel, the price where it hovers now. An identical logic, if perhaps at a different price, applies to the petrodictatorships in Moscow and Tehran, which already are heavily saddled with inflationary and investor-confidence concerns. Russia will also likely burn through its $550 billion in foreign-currency reserves faster than anticipated -- a pleasing if roundabout comeuppance for last summer's Georgian adventure.

Nor does the U.S. seem all that badly off, comparatively speaking, when it comes to its ability to finance a bailout. Last month's $700 billion bailout package seems staggeringly large, but it amounts to a little more than 5% of U.S. gross domestic product. Compare that to Germany's $400 billion to $536 billion rescue package (between 12% and 16% of its GDP), or Britain's $835 billion plan (30%).

Of course it may require considerably more than $700 billion to clean out our Augean Stables. But here it helps that the ratio of government debt to GDP in the U.S. runs to about 62%. For the eurozone, it's 75%; for Japan, 180%.

It also helps that the U.S. continues to have the world's largest inflows of foreign direct investment; that it ranks third in the world (after Singapore and New Zealand) for ease of doing business, according to the World Bank; and that its demographic trends aren't headed toward a tall and steep cliff -- as they are in the EU, Russia, Japan and China.

The US still produces over one quarter of the world's goods and services and remains a business-friendly environment---unlike the rules-clogged EU-nuch economy which drives its gnomes to buy homes in Florida to get away from pesky tax assessors in EU-nuchland. The arteries of the old continent are clotted with obstructions to business and common sense.

Read the whole article, which is eminent good sense in the face of silly puffballs blowing from across the pond.

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