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A Europe stronger than America

Franck Biancheri, 03/01/2005

With its enlargement to ten poorer countries, the European Union is investing in the future as the gap widens in the United States between poor and rich states …

I have always had some reservations about the profession of economists where the few brilliant minds are engulfed by a tide of mediocre characters convinced that the manipulation of a few equations turns them into scientists but who, for the most of them, would have just as well in other times astrologers or haruspices.

Today the tolerable limit in terms of analytical poverty and intellectual dishonesty is out of date. At a time when the Europeans are going to engage in a vast democratic debate on their collective future, it seems to me necessary to intervene so as not to allow these Diafoirus to weave their superb incompetence into the garb of authority. Of authority, they have none, they who belong to a profession that always proves incapable of foreseeing the slightest break in current trends. On the other hand, their ability to gloss over the fake, the incomplete, even the unknown, is remarkable and brings them indisputably closer to our “military experts” who produce the “hot” comments of the “televised” wars while they have no idea what is really happening on the field.

Let’s illustrate our point by the so-called economic “stall” between the European Union and the United States. Having the weakness of knowing the European terrain as well as that of the United States, I can see one simple thing: the careful observation of reality belies the “statement” of our dear European economists. Not only there is no a widening gap in wealth between the European Union and the United States for the benefit of the United States, but there is a widening gap in the other direction, in favor of Europe. How is it that these heads full, if not well done, lead to this type of analysis? Alas, the explanation is simple and comes down to four appalling factors.

First, our economists continue to rely on statistics that do not measure much anymore. Thus, the United States produces better and better (higher productivity) products that no one buys except for themselves (example: cars); they aggregate revenue from services and products that are no longer produced by them, such as electronics and computers, but whose “performance” is still attributed to their country; they generate GDP, either by solving their problems but by maintaining them (thus the penitentiary, with its 2.5 million prisoners, grows steadily); and I do not even mention the burning questions about the reliability of US statistics in light of growing criticism from the scientific community. The Union does not do better with these “sacrosanct figures”, as we can see with the scandal of manipulation of Greek statistics.

Secondly, our economists, even though some people point out negatively at the end of their analyzes, forget that the Union, because of its enlargement to ten less richer countries, is investing in the future by developing its new members while the gap is growing in the United States between poor and rich states. The recent study on the decline of health indicators in the majority of American states is a good example. Do you get richer by puncturing the poor or helping them get rich?

Third, our economists are often mere spokespersons for a political and economic vision driven by others. They are charged with dressing up their learned habits and scholarly arguments with speeches that are reluctant to appear publicly. Here, it is to maintain the “fear” of a stall of Europe against the United States to support an ultra-liberal agenda, intended to deregulate all over Europe. It is, in the economic field, the reflection of the policy of the Bush administration in the field of security, consisting of generating the “fear” of terrorism to make accept the “all safe”. Here, our economists are no longer hiding themselves: they act “ex officio” as vulgar propagandists.

Finally, there is a finally benign factor, that of age. Our economists share with our European media leaders an essential feature: they are all aging baby boomers who continue to see the United States with the eyes of their youth, when they were doing their PhD at Stanford or at MIT; and also through their “networks” of transatlantic colleagues (guaranteed comfortable seminars and successful careers). As, moreover, the European construction has never had their cup of tea, so do not be deprived to predict the worst mistakes, the worst horrors!

In any case, this is perfectly in keeping with the ambient conformism of our intellectual “elites” who are incapable of imagining a future other than the continuation of the past they have known.

FRANCK BIANCHERI, 03/01/2005 (Director of Europe2020)

Translated from: LE POINT DE VUE DE FRANCK BIANCHIERI published in LES ECHOS magazine, on 03/01/2005 (original French)

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