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Two years after the onset of the financial crisis, the US economy still looks very bad. The reason is that the US crisis is not only the result of a real estate bubble and the resulting crisis in the financial sector, but also of a more fundamental lack of competitiveness. The US economy needs a profound restructuring, and there is no simple way to achieve that.
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International investors are panicking. The EU and IMF have bailed out Greece, then Ireland and everybody's guess is that Portugal or maybe even Spain may be next. After the bail-out, these countries are in for a long and tough period of austerity and low growth. Is the Argentinian default a decade ago a better alternative?
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If the financial crisis has brought us something good, it is that it has exposed the ignorance with which the economy has been treated by the media. The downside of it is that few seem to have noticed, and that the economic journalists don't seem to have learned anything from it. This is particularly clear when looking at the way news about the stock market and the housing market are treated.
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Denmark, in the seventies and eighties the sick country of Northern Europe with high unemployment and deficits everywhere, has made an impressive come-back during the last decade. Low unemployment, surplus on the public finances, surplus on the current account. Government debt was practically paid back in 2007. Reasonable – even if unimpressive - growth rates. Looks like a small miracle, doesn't it?
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As the financial markets imploded in late 2008, crisis packages of some sort were implemented in most countries to soften the impact of the financial melt-down on the real economy. There has been no thorough discussion about these crisis measures, as the crisis packages because of the urgency generally were hastened through parliaments. It is of course too early to assess the impact, but they have undoubtedly been working to some extent, increasing demand and hence detaining somewhat the fall in production and employment
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