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Monday, February 27, 2012

Ailing the E.U.: Unbalanced Federalism and the Euro

Lest it be thought that the economic safety net for the neediest led some of the E.U. states into excessive public debt toward the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century and beyond, the existence of some counter-examples suggest that the actual culprit was misapplied modern federalism.

In early 2012, Sweden still had a very generous welfare state and yet had the fastest economic growth of any E.U. state. Leaving Malta and Cyprus aside, ranking the 15 E.U. states that were using the euro at the time by the percentage of GDP that they were spending on social programs before the debt crisis shows that of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy, only the latter was in the top five—and with a welfare state smaller than that of Germany. In other words, an economic safety net for the poor does not necessarily translate into unsustainable government debt.

The complete essay is at Essays on Two Federal Empires.