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How Europe Survives A Financial Crisis | Newsweek World | Newsweek.com
As the economy shows signs of life, Europe's slow and steady model is proving there's more to life than hypergrowth.

At the end of the race between the tortoise and the hare, at least as the 17th Century French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine told the tale, the terrapin cries out, "I won! And what would have happened if you'd been carrying your house on your back!"

As the world's economies slog toward the still-not-quite-visible end of the crisis, Europeans are hoping they'll be able to make a similar boast to the Americans. And thus far, going slow and steady, it looks as if they just might win this marathon, or at least set a useful example. Sure, the U.S. economy is known for being faster off the mark, unfettered by the accumulated weight of what some would call the welfare state or, God forbid, "socialism." But it's also been the first to crash. And in hard times, Americans are left looking, sometimes rather desperately, for shelter. In continental Europe, especially as the French and Germans see it, the shell is really the secret of long-term success, offering protection from the ferocious storms in the global economy and allowing society to keep functioning smoothly.

Of course, we should drag out this metaphor only so far, but even the hitherto insouciant jack rabbits of laissez-faire capitalism are starting to look at the continental models more closely. The British, who jettisoned much of their burdensome carapace in the Thatcher years, are so chagrined by their current woes that the free-market bards of The Economist recently wrote a paean to É France! So, too, The Wall Street Journal. Lo and behold, they've discovered that French and German workers, even the unemployed ones, are still able to lead decent lives, free of want, free of fear, and with enough left over to buy lunch and go to the movies.

by Fran on Sat May 23rd, 2009 at 12:04:30 AM EST
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