Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why Is the US Doing So Well?

. Saturday, November 19, 2011

So asks Ezra Klein:
Not in absolute terms, of course. Unemployment remains high. Growth remains anemic. Markets remain shaky. But Europe has been doing something very close to imploding for months now. So just as our financial crisis sent Europe into a tailspin three years ago, you might expect that the possibility of a partial or complete break-up of the Eurozone would have American businesses taking a chainsaw to their workforces and households stuffing their paychecks under the mattress in the expectation that 2012 will be a lot like 2009. And yet none of that is happening.
He then runs down some data and has some quotes from macroeconomists. I think the answer is given by this interactive graph from the BBC. In short, Europe is much more highly exposed to weakness in the US (Above picture) than the US is exposed to weakness from Europe. Click on a few of those European countries; almost none of them expose the US. The ones that do -- mostly the UK -- are in decent enough shape. Even the biggest exposures, from France and Germany, are much smaller than exposures of European countries to the US, and of course the US has a much larger economy and banking system than any one of those countries.

Thomas, Sarah, Andy, and I have some joint research that we've posted about before that visualizes the same data in a different way. Ours includes more countries as well as cross-time developments, shown in an animation. (We posted it nine months ago, so the BBC is way behind.) The point is the same: the world is much more susceptible to contagion emanating from the US than the US is to contagion from the rest of the world. This includes even Europe.

In other words, it's not enough to simply say that interlinkages in the global economy are important, and conclude from that developments in the EU will automatically determine the US's economic performance. The patterns of interdependence are even more important, and these give us reasons to be optimistic that the US may be relatively okay even if Europe goes belly-up.


Why Is the US Doing So Well?




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