John Snow is in Europe, globetrotting on the G8 round. He had some advice for us here in Europe: “I think the important thing is that Europe continue to focus on the things that need to be done to encourage domestic growth”.
I’m glad he raised the point, since otherwise it might have escaped us. These comments, and other similar ones, are widely interpreted as recommending that we focus on reform. Well I couldn’t agree more, but sometimes isn’t it better to start putting your advice in practice at home. Looking at the state of global trading imbalances I would say that the US has its own problems, and they seem to need attention. Looking at the trade figures, German and Japanese companies don’t seem to have any special problem of being competitive internationally. I don’t want to seem tendentious, but isn’t it the US manufacturing company which is having difficulty being competitive these days, at least if the ability to sell at competitive prices in international markets is anything to go by.
Of course Europe and Japan are light on internal demand growth, but there is precious little we can do about it since this is largely a product of demographic changes, not structural weakness. This is a part of the ‘new global reality’ and the sooner politicians like John Snow face up to this, the better for all of us.