President Obama is in Cannes, France today for the Group of 20 summit, and the stakes are high. In this global village of ours, the European financial crisis is irrevocably roped to our own economic situation, as Europe is the biggest destination for American exports and foreign direct investment. Not to mention, most of Europe and the U.S. have hitched their wagons and led the world in freedom, democracy, and mostly-free enterprise for decades, and we want to succeed. Although we don't have a direct say in whatever Europe chooses to do, their actions will most certainly affect our own economy and, hence, the president's reelection bid. President Obama hopes to provide the EU with some guidance, which is somewhat less than comforting - given the president's spectacular failings in domestic economic adventures, this feels like the deaf leading the blind.
The most conspicuous symptom of Europe's woes is, of course, the deplorable state of Greece's financial affairs. Prime Minister Papandreou scared the pants off of both investers and EU leaders on Monday when he announced he would hold a popular referendum on the agreed-upon bailout plan and austerity measures, as the Greek people have been very vocal about their unwillingness to turn away from their unworkable socialist system and to stop dragging everybody else down with them. Fortunately, Papandreou scrapped that dumb idea today under pressure from other leaders threatening to cut Greece out of the eurozone, but the underlying crisis remains:
Sarkozy said after meeting with Obama that the leaders were "trying to build the unity of the G-20." He said the top issue is economic stability, "in particular the issue of the Greek crisis"
Sarkozy also said that he and Obama agree that businesses should contribute to resolving the global financial crisis.
Sarkozy said the pair "found a common analysis to make the financial world contribute" to finding a solution. He did not elaborate, but said he welcomed Obama's "understanding on subjects such as a tax on financial activities."
Sarkozy and some others in Europe have been pushing for a small tax on all financial transactions that could be used to help poor nations and reduce debts. The Obama administration is cool to the idea, favoring instead fees on the biggest banks.
I find it infuriating that American tax dollars regularly go to foreign aid for these petulant socialists who just can't get it together, but what's even more infuriating is the danger of what will happen if we don't step up and bail them out of their self-inflicted problems. Because if we don't help out, China is eagerly waiting in the wings to gain a more influential foothold and shift the geopolitcal balance of power in their own favor - which would most definitely put yet another damper on our terribly shaky relationship. This is just one big international hot mess.
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