The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Monday, April 18, 2005

The European Economy 

Hat tip to VodkaPundit for this interesting article in the NY Times which compares the various economies of the European Union with our 50 states. More importantly it talks about the buying power of people in those states. I was quite shocked by the numbers:

After I moved here six years ago, I quickly noticed that Norwegians live more frugally than Americans do. They hang on to old appliances and furniture that we would throw out. And they drive around in wrecks. In 2003, when my partner and I took his teenage brother to New York - his first trip outside of Europe - he stared boggle-eyed at the cars in the Newark Airport parking lot, as mesmerized as Robin Williams in a New York grocery store in "Moscow on the Hudson."
It is not simply a matter of tradition, or a preference for a basic, nonmaterialistic life. Dining out is just too pricey in a country where teachers, for example, make about $50,000 a year before taxes. Even the humblest of meals - a large pizza delivered from Oslo's most popular pizza joint - will run from $34 to $48, including delivery fee and a 25 percent value added tax.

Not that groceries are cheap, either. Every weekend, armies of Norwegians drive to Sweden to stock up at supermarkets that are a bargain only by Norwegian standards. And this isn't a great solution, either, since gasoline (in this oil-exporting nation) costs more than $6 a gallon.
After adjusting the figures for the different purchasing powers of the dollar and euro, the only European country whose economic output per person was greater than the United States average was the tiny tax haven of Luxembourg, which ranked third, just behind Delaware and slightly ahead of Connecticut.

I found this article to be especially good since I've recently finished The United States Of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy which paints a much rosier picture of the European economy. I blogged about the book after I finished it here and here.

Couple this with the news coming out of France that the "No vote" on the European constitution is picking up a lot of steam... and things are likely to turn very interesting in our neighbor across the Atlantic. Of course one can't help but be reminded of the old Chinese curse... "May you live in interesting times."

Some have speculated that if France votes No... which would kill the Constitution (as would any other single No vote), that the Euro could very likely collapse. While this would surely be a huge blow to the European economy (and quite unfortunate)... what would the effects be here? Granted it would likely bolster the dollar again... but since many European companies have a large stake, and control in the U.S. companies... don't think that Europe's problems would be isolated there.


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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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