It says a lot about the state of U.S. attitudes toward Europe when a major Republican presidential candidate's idea of an insult worthy of a paid political attack ad is: "Just like John Kerry, he speaks French, too!"
We really have not come so far from the "Freedom Fries" farce, after all.
But it's not only highly ideological Republicans who love to hate Europe and all it represents. For some reason, a wide swath of the opinion-making segment of U.S. society has fallen in love with the idea that the euro is bound to fail -- and has been openly rooting for such an event.
No one should underestimate the severity of the crisis gripping the Euro zone. But press speculation on the euro's demise -- often with the tone that it was about to happen -- any second! -- has been more about media fashion than understanding of Europe.
The fact is that the German economy, the anchor of Europe, generally looks pretty good -- and I for one have no doubt that the euro will survive this crisis.
Obviously, though, a crisis of this magnitude is bound to wreak some havoc, and it now appears that we could see some major change in the scandalous hegemony of so-called "ratings agencies," Standard & Poor's and Moody's, which, as has been reported, often base their moves on scanning of headlines, that is to say, with little interest in what is actually going on -- just an awareness of the media speculation of the moment and what it might mean for that fictional entity known as "the markets."
A move is now afoot to start a European ratings agency to serve as a counterbalance to the U.S.-based rating agencies and their highly dubious record of late (remember when S & P mistakenly released a downgrade of the rating for France, watched the fur fly, then basically said: 'Whoops, sorry'?).As Harvey Morris writes in this blog:
There is a growing backlash in Europe over the power of the international ratings agencies, including calls to set up a home-grown alternative to the U.S.-based big three -- S.&P., Moody's Investors Service Inc., and Fitch Ratings -- and advice from central bankers that investors, in the meantime, pay them less attention.
Bravo! The crew that downgraded the United States all because of media yammering over some tired Washington political theater relating to the debt ceiling have lost credibility. They are not gods. They are not all-knowing and they are not all-anything. A little competition in this area would be a good thing for everyone -- and might bring less of an emphasis on wild rumor-fueled speculation. Here's hoping anyway.