The United States is suffering through the weakest economic expansion since the Great Depression, which is a damning indictment of Obamanomics.
But that doesn’t mean the United States has the world’s worst-performing economy. Japan’s statist economy has been mired in stagnation for more than 20 years, which is about what you might expect in a nation where the government is so omnipresent that it even regulates coffee enemas.
But if you really want to feel good about America’s economy (at least in relative terms), then a comparison to Europe is probably akin to snorting cocaine.
The welfare states on the other side of the Atlantic are in such poor shape that they celebrate even the tiniest glimmer of good news. Here are some blurbs from a story in the EU Observer.
The eurozone economy has moved out of recession, according to unexpectedly strong data published on Wednesday (14 August) by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency.
So what is this “strong data” mentioned in the story? Did eurozone economies grow at a 4 percent annual pace? 5 percent?
Economic output rose by 0.3 percent across both the euro area and the EU28 during the second quarter of 2013, compared with the previous quarter. Surprisingly, it was Portugal which, despite recent social unrest and political turmoil over its bailout programme, saw the biggest jump in growth, with its economy growing by 1.1 percent. Finland and Germany recorded growth of 0.7 percent, while, France recorded a 0.5 percent growth rate, which will dampen concerns that the country’s economy will remain stagnant in 2013. The statistics indicate that the European economy is recovering faster than expected and could post an overall growth rate for 2013.
Huh, 0.3 percent is something to celebrate?!? These are quarterly numbers, so you should multiply by four to get annual rates, but even that doesn’t translate into “strong data.”
Moreover, if you look at the actual report from eurostat, you’ll see that the year-over-year numbers still show recession. So it’s far from clear that one quarter of anemic growth should be considered the start of a recovery.
Yet the expectations are so low in these over-taxed and over-regulated welfare states that the mandarins at the European Commission are breaking out the champagne.
In a statement, EU eurozone commissioner Olli Rehn described the news as “encouraging” and said that “the European economy is gradually gaining momentum.”
I guess the European economy is gaining momentum if you use a glacier as your benchmark.
I’m not trying to mock Europeans just for the heck of it. The serious point in this post is that the United States has been gradually moving in the direction of becoming a French-style welfare state during the statist Bush-Obama years.
And even though I like to think of America as being special, the consequences of more spending, more taxes, and more regulation are just as bad on this side of the ocean as they are on the other side of the ocean.
As you can see from the chart, America has enjoyed a big advantage over Europeans if you look at living standards. And maybe we always will maintain an advantage if they move even farther in the wrong direction at the same time that the United States is adopting counterproductive policies.
But why would we want to copy the misguided policies of nations that are collapsing?
Particularly when we have examples of jurisdictions that are now more prosperous than the United States and they lead the world in maintaining the tried-and-true recipe of free markets and small government.
P.S. If you look at the EU data, you’ll see that the Baltic nations are doing better than average, which is at least somewhat due to the fact that they have pursued better policy than their European neighbors.