Europe’s Fake Normal
This summer’s sense of economic normality in Europe is neither natural nor necessarily tenable in the long term, because it reflects temporary and potentially reversible factors. If Europe does not return to addressing its economic challenges in a more comprehensive manner, the current calm may quickly give way to renewed turmoil.
NEWPORT BEACH – August is traditionally Europe’s holiday month, with many government officials taking several weeks off. In the process, important initiatives are put on hold until the “great return” at the beginning of September.
This year, there is another reason why Europe has pressed the pause button for August. With a looming election in Germany, few wish to undermine Chancellor Angela Merkel’s likely victory. After all, Germany is central to Europe’s well-being, and Merkel’s steady hand has allowed the continent to overcome a series of challenges over the last few years. As a result, many are eager to postpone any controversial policy decisions rather than rock the German political boat.
Some of the recent economic news has seemed to justify this approach. At the end of July, the widely watched indicator of European manufacturing activity crossed the threshold signaling expansion for only the second time in 23 months.