The case for reform, from Forbes:
In Latin America, by Ernesto Zedillo (my bold print):
Not every fiscal problem is the same throughout the region, however. Some countries raise high amounts of revenue but spend even more. Others spend more frugally but proportionally collect less in taxes. All spend too little on basic infrastructure. The general goal must be to achieve fiscal consolidations–either by axing current expenditures or by collecting more taxes. This would enable governments to apply countercyclical macroeconomic policies and to invest more in human and physical infrastructure.
Next in importance is guaranteeing the rule of law, under which falls the protection of property rights and the relentless fight against corruption. The rule of law is an essential requirement for the development of credit markets and other important aspects of a modern economy. Finally, the removal of internal and external barriers to competition must be part of any must-do list of public policy. Latin American economies need fewer and better regulations and must be more open to foreign competition and investment.
In Germany, by Paul Johnson: Eminent historian Johnson identifies three reasons for Germany’s decline:
- The power wielded by its old-fashioned trade unions
- The input of the EU bureaucracy in Brussels
- Germany’s acute sense of failure and unhappiness.
Johnson then proposes,
Along with reforming itself, Germany should be leading a campaign to reform the EU. The object should be to cast off the Francophile control executed by Paris and Brussels and give the EU a new direction that corresponds to its expanding membership. One change–both symbolic and substantive–would be to transfer EU headquarters from Brussels, with its 40-year accretions of bureaucratic barnacles, to a city such as Hamburg, with its strong entrepreneurial and trading traditions, or Aachen, once the capital of Charlemagne’s Frankish-German empire and from which, in the late 1940s, the original concept of a United Europe drew its inspiration. Certainly the European capital needs to be closer to the Union’s center of gravity. But more important, the EU needs a revolution in thinking, away from the regulations and controls that are turning the dream of a prosperous and peaceful Europe into a nightmare of discontent, depression and decline.
The EU is considering making temporary concessions to the countries affected by the tsunami
Stung by accusations that the EU’s protectionism is doing immense damage to the Third World, our new Brussels trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, last week announced: “I want to find ways to assist people and businesses hit by the tsunami.” He would “consider” moves towards trade concessions worth “tens of millions of euros”. This compares with the Thais’ own estimate that the shrimp tariff alone is now costing them £400 million a year.
Free trade is something not contemplated by the EU.