1. Exquisite Tweets from @JeremyCliffe, @APHClarkson

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    All this "Merkel is the new leader of the free world" nonsense obscures a more interesting story: the strange non-death of Old Europe.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    Merkel has no interest in becoming "leader of the free world". Indeed, she is (sometimes infuriatingly) hyper-sensitive to domestic opinion.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    Yet for nigh-on two decades Anglo-Saxon commentators have been grandly predicting doom and stagnation for the tired old European core.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    They have a point: Old Europe is ageing, unemployment-prone, sometimes timid on the world stage and prone to trade- and techno-scepticism.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    That, however, is not the whole story. Productivity per hour worked in GER and FR tracks the US rate & is leaving the UK far behind.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    Old Europe spends too little on defence. But it spends more than US on aid & environmental priorities and more than the UK on diplomacy.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    The Eurozone is recovering. Most notably in Germany (unemployment lower than in US or UK despite higher taxes and more generous welfare).

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    But also in much of "crisis Europe": France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland all seeing rising confidence, higher growth, unemployment falling.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    Meanwhile you'd struggle to find more technologically sophisticated economies than the Netherlands and Finland, both in the Eurozone.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

  2. Also Estonia. And with Czechia and Slovenia you have states at the cusp of joining high prosperity level West European states

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    APHClarkson

    Alexander Clarkson

  3. Rising populism in Old Europe is worrying. But the "political stability story" is messier in an age of Brexit & Trump, Merkel & Macron.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    Meanwhile Old Europe continues to ace living-standards measures like child well-being, average hours worked and life expectancy.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    So does Old Europe need modernising reforms? Can it learn from the Anglo-Saxons? Absolutely. But there is another side of the story.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    Merkel does not run the world. But her stature speaks to the fact that she represents a part of the world that was written off prematurely.

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe

    In other words: Merkel represents an Old Europe that stubbornly defies predictions of inexorable and comprehensive decline. [thread ends]

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    JeremyCliffe

    Jeremy Cliffe