Europe, post-fiscal cliff

A skydiver holds an American flag on September 7, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia.

European stocks have been caught up in the global post-cliff euphoria. The main market indices in London, Paris and Frankfurt scored gains of up to two percent in early trading today.   

European investors were showing their relief that the U.S. did not plunge over the cliff dragging Europe’s biggest export market with it. But few seriously believe that yesterday’s deal solves America’s debt problem; analysts acknowledge that a lasting solution has merely been deferred at least until February when a decision will be required to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. 

The delay is highly ironic to some policy watchers as the U.S. has been taking Europe to task for foot-dragging with its debt crisis:

“Politicians and commentators  have been fiercely critical of Europe kicking the can down the road," says financial consultant Louise Cooper, "but this is exactly what America is doing.”

Cooper claims there’s one reason that politicians on both sides of the Pond have been able to postpone really decisive action over debt: Their central banks are showering the markets with printed money, pushing down interest rates and artificially reducing the danger of default.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.
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No, Louise, some politicians and commentators have been fiercely critical of Europe for its excessive fiscal austerity and of Germany in particular for profiting from the earlier credit expansion and then refusing to give back to the peripheral EU countries when large parts of the expansion ended up involving bad investments by German banks. The US has avoided some of these bad policies so far.

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