The U.S. economy is growing slowly and Europe's hardly at all. The stock market lurch last week is a belated acknowledgement that our two economies share a common affliction, and Europe suffers more seriously. The affliction is austerity. And yet the main remedy being promoted by the U.S. government and its European allies is a trade and investment deal known as T-TIP, which stands for the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. According to the deal's sponsors, T-TIP would help stimulate recovery by removing barriers to trade and promoting regulatory convergence and hence investment. The proposed deal is not popular in the U.S. Congress, which has to approve negotiating authority. The administration, say well-placed sources, hopes to cram through the necessary approval during the lame duck session of Congress after the November 4 election. That still will not assure approval, because the deal is also increasingly unpopular in Europe.
America is no longer the world's most connected economy--those laurels go to Germany. Germany ranks first, and the U.S. third, with two smaller economies--Hong Kong and Singapore--coming in second and fourth. The index shows that the trade intensity of the U.S.--the value of flows relative to the size of its economy--is only one-third the intensity of Germany and half that of China.
As the world struggles to recover from the global economic crisis, the unconventional monetary policies that many advanced countries adopted in its wake seem to have gained widespread acceptance. In those economies, however, where debt overhangs, policy is uncertain, or the need for structural reform constrains domestic demand, there is a legitimate question as to whether these policies' domestic benefits have offset their damaging spillovers to other economies. The disregard for spillovers could put the global economy on a dangerous path of unconventional monetary tit for tat. To ensure stable and sustainable economic growth, world leaders must re-examine the international rules of the monetary game, with advanced and emerging economies alike adopting more mutually beneficial monetary policies.
After the 2008 international financial crisis, global trade and investment protectionism has again been resurgent. Policy barriers are becoming more covert, populism and provincial politics are causing greater disruption and policies are increasingly being made in a self-centered way. This trend deserves our high alert.