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Europe in Crisis: Bolt from the Blue?

A recent book by Ivan Berend, Distinguished Professor, UCLA History

This book analyzes the European Great Recession of 2008-12, its economic and social causes, its historical roots, and the policies adopted by the European Union to find a way out of it. Contemporary advanced capitalism became financialized, de-industrialized and globalized and got rid of the "straitjacket" of regulations. Solid banking was replaced by high-risk, "casino-type" activity. The European common currency also had a structural problem — monetary unification without a federal state and fiscal unification. The other side of the same coin is European hyper-consumerism. A new lifestyle emerged during two super-prosperous periods in the 1950s to 1960s, and during the 1990s to 2006. Trying to find an exit policy, the European Union turned to strict austerity measures to curb the budget deficit and indebtedness. The creation of important supra-national institutions, and of a financial supervisory authority and stability mechanisms, strengthens integration. The correction of the euro’s structural mistake by creating a quasi-fiscal unification is even more important. The introduction of mandatory fiscal rules and their supervision promises a long-term solution for a well-functioning common currency. These measures, meanwhile, create a two-tier European Union with a fast-track core. This book suggests that the European Union will emerge stronger from the crisis.

Center for European and Eurasian Studies