Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Prospects for Improvement

Matthew Yglesias sees prospects for imminent improvement in relations between the United States and Europe.

Elster Interview

A very interesting interview with Collège de France professor Jon Elster, which touches on many subjects, among others the distinction between rationality and reason and the fairness of chance. The interviewers are Florent Guénard and Hélène Landemore.

Photo of the Year

Yes, that's Paul Krugman with W. Tyler Cowen's holding another caption contest.

EC Stimulus Plan

Everybody has a stimulus plan, it seems. José Manuel Barroso, not wanting to be left out in the cold, has proposed a plan in the name of the European Commission, which of course lacks the means to carry it out. That hasn't stopped him from proposing a scheme more ambitious than either the announced British or leaked French plans, both of which come in at around 1% of GDP. Barroso is going for 1.5%: why not, when you're spending other people's money?

So European coordination, which had been touted a week ago as Sarkozy's great achievement in the unfolding crisis, seems to reside chiefly in the coordination of "every man for himself" announcements. Once again EU governance looks like the zebra that it is (Definition: zebra--a horse designed by a committee).

VAT May Be Cut

There may be VAT cuts targeted at certain sectors such as automobiles as part of a French stimulus package. This contradicts what was previously reported as an agreement between Sarko and Merkel not to go this route.

UK Deficit Will Soar

Ceteris Paribus calls our attention to UK deficit projections for the years ahead, which rise above 8% of GDP in 2009-10. The interesting point is that 80% of this will be due to the operation of automatic stabilizers and only 20% to Brown's stimulus package. In particular, tax receipts from the financial and housing sectors will be way down. Since finance accounted until recently for an astonishing 1 in 5 British jobs, this sharp decrease is not altogether unexpected.

Paris Is Not Kansas

Brent Whelan discovers that Paris is not Kansas when he runs into a street demonstration of ... archeologists. It seems that they're upset by government plans to move them out of Paris.