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Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Rise & Decline In Western Europe?

"Most of Western Europe experienced a long postwar boom, lasting at least through the late 1970s (the timing is later for Spain). This was sustained by rebuilding, an enormous growth in world trade, and by lower levels of government intervention than we see today. But welfare payments rose, taxes rose, labor markets became less flexible, interventions favored insiders to a greater degree, regulations were cartelized, and the entrepreneurial spirit ebbed.

Western European per capita income is now about 30 percent below that of the United States and I see the gap widening rather than closing. It is common for the United States rate of productivity growth to be twice as high as that of the core European nations (NB: don’t be fooled by statistics of high average labor productivity levels in some countries, such as France. In part they result from limits on the creation of low-wage jobs and they do not predict good future performance.) The relatively free Ireland continues to boom, but France, Germany, Italy and others have performed poorly. Even the Dutch economic miracle appears to have ended."
Read the whole piece and see if you find Olson's Rise and Decline of Nations in the picture Cowan is painting.

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