Saturday, January 16, 2010

The US Economy in Europe

Writing from Berlin, Germany, it's painful to see the impact of the remarkably weak US dollar (.62 Euro at the bank). Evidence of the resulting precipitous drop in exports (Germany is the largest exporter relative to GDP) is every where. The Sony Center, packed on Saturday nites, is a ghost town. Restaurants at their traditional peak times, Saturday dinner, are empty.  Train stations, notably the pan-European Hauptbahnhof, are bereft of travellers. Perhaps its the weather, but I don't think so.

The multi-trillion dollar expansion of the U.S. government is creating a debt burden lasting generations.  This short sighted attempt to alleviate the pain from unintelligent commercial and individual decisions has not gone unnoticed.  The world used to happily finance the U.S. consumer because he kept the factories running and there was confidence in the U.S. government's fiduciary sensibility. No more.

Transnational corporations can hedge by keeping their books in Euros, Pounds or (eventually) Yuan. Not so the the U.S. citizen.  A weak dollar does not help the U.S. citizen trying to claw his way out of a debt mountain or keep living standards in a regime of relative wage declines.

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