Americans and Europeans have no room to criticise each other on debt
What on earth was US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner playing at during his trip to Europe? asks Cato's Dan Mitchell
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner may be most famous in the United States for cheating on his taxes (you can even buy a t-shirt to acknowledge his tax dodging), but he’s becoming a punch line in the rest of the world for different reasons.
I wrote two years ago about Chinese students erupting in laughter after Geithner claimed the Administration believed in a strong dollar.
Now he’s getting mocked by the Europeans.
After Friday’s post about the absurdity of Obama sending his Treasury Secretary to lecture the Europeans, you can imagine my great amusement today as I read that the Europeans basically told Geithner to go jump in a lake.
Here are some passages from the Reuters report.
"Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s high-profile trip to Europe left some European officials more dumbstruck than starstruck. …”We can always discuss with our American colleagues. I’d like to hear how the United States will reduce its deficits … and its debts,” Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders said somewhat tartly. Jean-Claude Juncker, the chairman of the Eurogroup, was even more to the point. “I don’t think it would be wise for me to report from an informal meeting that we have with the treasury secretary. We are not discussing the expansion or increase of the EFSF with a non-member of the euro area,” he said.
And here is a brief excerpt from the Financial Times.
"…some eurozone finance ministers hit back at Mr Geithner’s comments, questioning the usefulness of his visit. “I found it peculiar that even though the Americans have significantly worse fundamental data than the eurozone, that they tell us what we should do and when we make a suggestion … that they say no straight away,” said Maria Fekter, Austria’s finance minister. Sweden’s Anders Borg said: “we need to make progress, but it’s quite clear the US has a big debt problem and the situation would be better if the US could show a sustainable way forward.”
When the dust settles, though, the fact that Secretary Geithner is getting laughed at and mocked by people in other countries is not that funny.
Not because he doesn’t deserve abuse, but rather because the bad policies of the Obama Administration are resulting in genuine hardship and suffering.
And the fact that the Europeans are even further down the path that leads to fiscal crisis makes it all the more tragic. You would think American policy makers would learn what not to do.
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