Thursday, February 12, 2009

French Tortoise Beats U.S. Hare?

Photo by gnoble760

Do we not learn or do we not care? Over 2600 years after Aesop told his famous fable of the tortoise and the hare, we in the U.S. continue to insist that explosive speed punctuated by spectacular slowdowns is the best model for our economy, rather than a slow-and-steady approach to constant growth. Apparently, France has internalized the notion that "slow and steady wins the race." The W$J today has an intriguing story about how France has been spared the worst of the current global economic meltdown thanks, perhaps counterintuitively, to its restrictions on mortgage lending, a dominant public employment sector, and lack of reliance on a few sectors to drive impressive year-on-year economic growth. These characteristics of the French economic model have been criticized mercilessly by economists in recent years, but now who's eating crow? Or rather, who SHOULD be eating crow, as I'm sure few economists are abandoning their disproven theoretical models (which is ironically one reason why many are apparently finding it hard to find jobs)--after all, empirical data about what has ACTUALLY happened to the world economy seems to be less important to most economists than what their models predict SHOULD have happened (if you haven't heard the joke about the economist and the can opener, check it out). The final paragraphs of the article, of course, conclude with dire warnings from an economist that France will "return to a pattern of slower growth" after the world economy recovers. These guys just don't get it. Perhaps WE're the ones who should consider embracing "slower growth" to avoid having to recover from the next inevitable economic breakdown caused by our maniacal focus on above average growth.

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