The Future of Europe: Reform or Declineby Alberto Alesina, Francesco Giavazzi
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Unless Europe takes action soon, its further economic and political decline is almost inevitable, economists Alberto Alesina and Francesco Giavazzi write in this provocative book. Without comprehensive reform, continental Western Europe's overprotected, overregulated economies will continue to slow -- and its political influence will become negligible. This doesn't mean that Italy, Germany, France, and other now-prosperous countries will become poor; their standard of living will remain comfortable. But they will become largely irrelevant on the world scene. In The Future of Europe, Alesina and Giavazzi (themselves Europeans) outline the steps that Europe must take to prevent its economic and political eclipse.Europe, the authors say, has much to learn from the market liberalism of America. Europeans work less and vacation more than Americans; they value job stability and security above all. Americans, Alesina and Giavazzi argue, work harder and longer and are more willing to endure the ups and downs of a market economy. Europeans prize their welfare states; Americans abhor government spending. America is a melting pot; European countries -- witness the November 2005 unrest in France -- have trouble absorbing their immigrant populations. If Europe is to arrest its decline, Alesina and Giavazzi warn, it needs to adopt something closer to the American free-market model for dealing with these issues.Alesina and Giavazzi's prescriptions for how Europe should handle worker productivity, labor market regulation, globalization, support for higher education and technology research, fiscal policy, and its multiethnic societies are sure to stir controversy, as will their eye-opening view of the European Union and the euro. But their wake-up call will ring loud and clear for anyone concerned about the future of Europe and the global economy.
"This book could have been a diatribe, but is saved from that by the intelligence of the authors' arguments and policy recommendations. A must read for those interested in the European economy." P. K. Kresl Choice
As the new Congress begins work, it should peruse a recently published book, The Future of Europe: Reform or Decline, by two Italian economists, Harvard's Alberto Alesina and Bocconi University's Francesco Giavazzi. They explain what went wrong in Europe in particular in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain and how Europe can continue as a major economic power.
This book could have been a diatribe, but is saved from that by the intelligence of the authors' arguments and policy recommendations. A must read for those interested in the European economy.
- MIT Press
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What People are Saying About This
The authors have written an accepible plea for Europeans to reform their economies along American lines. They have converted a great deal of technical thinking and evidence into a lively book that noneconomists can easily digest.
Like all market-based economies, the transition countries are now subject to financial instability. This timely and important book uncovers the distinctive features of transition that give rise to financial crises in emerging market countries.
"Like all market-based economies, the transition countries are now subject to financial instability. This timely and important book uncovers the distinctive features of transition that give rise to financial crises in emerging market countries."Charles Wyplosz, Professor of Economics, Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva
Few scholars are better qualified to analyze the economic condition of Europe than Alesina and Giavazzi. With admirable clarity, supporting each step of thier argument with some striking empricaly findings, they reveal the seriousness of the plight of the major continental European econmies-- and the urgency of the need for liberalizing reforms.
This unique treatment of important political and economic issues offers interesting data that contrasts trends on two continents. The book's succinct clarity and hard-hitting style suggests that it will be a significant, controversial, and widely cited work.
Meet the Author
Alberto Alesina is Nathaniel Ropes Professor of Political Economics at Harvard University. He is the coauthor (with Enrico Spolaore) of The Size of Nations (MIT Press, 2003).
Francesco Giavazzi is Professor of Economics at Bocconi University and Visiting Professor at MIT. He is the coauthor (with Alberto Giovannini) of Limiting Exchange Rate Flexibility: The European Monetary System (MIT Press, 1989).
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This book deals with several major policy problems that Europe and Europeans are facing today. The usual suspects include non-competitive research and universities, mishandling of the increasingly multiethnic societies, liberalization of markets, high price of the social state, rigid labor market, to name just a few. There seems to be an increasing amount of literature and critical articles dedicated to these issues, in a stark contrast to the inability of European politicians to get a firm grip on them. Even though this book claims that Europe should not necessarily adopt Anglo-Saxon social and economic model, it is hard to escape this conclusion when reading the actual comparisons with the UK, US and other "Anglo-Saxon" countries. One big policy issue that is not being discussed here deals with the collapse of the European family and its roots in the dismantling of the Judeo-Christian religio-ethical tradition. A good place to start reading more about this is George Weigel's "The Cube And The Cathedral: Europe, America and Politics Without God" Additional criticism of this book concerns its editing. There are numerous spelling and other mistakes, and several graphs and charts are not all that clear. Otherwise, it is a very readable and engaging book.