Common Markets

2005-06-19

A recent article in The Economist discussed some intriguing differences between the European Union and the American Union (i.e., the USA). One of the reasons the American Union has been so successful is that it has the kind of common market that Europeans still can only dream about. America had a common currency hundreds of years before the Europeans, but America also has a common language (which Europe never will have, despite the use of English as a language of commerce) and (for the most part) a common culture, which makes it quite easy for Americans to move from one part of the country to another in search of economic oppotunity. If times are bad in Massachusetts or Minnesota, folks who live there simply move to Colorado or California; if times are bad in Germany or Greece, folks who live there are unlikely to move to Sweden or Spain. Political economists like to say that if goods are not allowed to cross borders, people will. But they have paid less attention to what happens when people can and will move with alacrity from one location to another. I think part of what we are witnessing in Europe is that it's not possible to create a true common market with only a common currency; one needs also a common language and culture. If that's true, then there are brighter prospects for cooperation and closeness between Anglosphere countries like America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and Ireland than there are between European nations as disparate as Portugal and Poland, France and Finland, Germany and Greece. I wish the Europeanists good luck; but they have a tough row to hoe.


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal