Europeans Dis Geithner. Who Wouldn't?
Is U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner ditzy or cheeky or some of both?
The Washington Post reports that Mr. Geithner brought the true gospel of John M. Keynes to fellow -- if slacking - believers in Europe on Friday. Speaking to European finance ministers at a conference in Poland, Mr. Geithner urged the ministers to double-down on economic disaster, just like his Styrofoam columns boss -- President Barak Obama -- wants to do in the United States.
"Your financial challenges in Europe are eminently in your capacity to manage financially, you just have to choose to do it," Geithner said at a conference after the closed-door meeting in Wroclaw, Poland, according to wire reports.
Wow. Geithner has to be a nervy guy to stand in front of an audience dispensing advice his boss and he don't follow. And listening to Geithner must have been an instant of wry humor for Europe's beleaguered finance ministers. Here's the U.S., floundering economically, up to its eyeballs in debt, with gaping and growing budget deficits, but Europeans are being lectured by "Best and Brightest Tim" in some wish-upon-a-star way about their eminent capacity to manage financially if they just darn well choose to.
But one courageous and on-top-of-things finance minister wasn't having any of Geithner's rah-rah.
"I found it peculiar that even though the Americans have significantly worse fundamental data than the euro zone that they tell us what we should do," Austrian finance minister Maria Fekter told reporters after the meeting.
And we're to suppose that Fekter made the comment with a straight face.
What does Geithner suggest Europeans do to help Europe heal financially and economically? Why, Geithner went right to the Obama playbook (as written by the Great Oz himself, Paul Krugman).
Geithner urged the finance ministers to pump money into their economies now to try to avert a financial downturn, even as they work to reduce longer-term indebtedness. He suggested expanding a fund meant to backstop the continent's governments.
Ah, yes. The "More hair of the dog that bit you" remedy. Throw more borrowed money in after all the other borrowed money that sits at the bottom of a deep, dank, dark hole. Oh, and while Europeans are dramatically ratcheting up their debts, work on reducing them too, says Sage Tim.
Not that Europeans are adverse to the Gospel of Keynes. But some are starting to feel the jitters.
"We have slightly different views from time to time with our U.S. colleagues when it comes to fiscal stimulus packages," [Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg and chairman of the group of finance ministers] told reporters. "We don't see any room for maneuver in the euro area which could allow us to launch new fiscal stimulus packages."
But another European muckety-muck signaled that Europe would eventually go Geithner's way by pumping more loaned money into chronically ill Greece. A bailout -- very temporary in nature, no doubt -- and not a stimulus of the Greek economy, but close counts in Keynesian fiction:
"Our permanent message is of course to be ahead of the curve," European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet told reporters in Poland, according to wire reports. "All that I heard goes in this direction. But the problems are not words, the problems are deeds."
The feckless European ruling class is just as addicted to Keynesian hair of the dog as are their American counterparts. They just want to deliberate for a sec before gulping down more of Keynes' potion, including coming, sooner or later, to debtor nation, the U.S., to guarantee a trillion dollars in loans.
Folly on top of folly. Woe unto honest, hard working men and women everywhere.