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European Debt Crisis
Never before has the financial distress of a few million attracted such global attention. From bank executives to finance ministers, the financial future of Greece and its place in the European Union is being discussed across boardrooms and kitchen tables.
Canada's overall numbers are not as impressive, but they reflect the growth rotation that will see exports and business investment grab the baton from the consumer and housing sectors. Conditions already favour export growth: a weakening loonie, a surge in leading sectors, a key export market that is leading the way, and strong demand for resources.
At the IMF and World Bank Group annual meetings in Tokyo, the European economic crisis was never off the agenda and often took centre stage in panel discussions. In the streets of Athens, Madrid, and in cities of other fiscal adjusting European states, there is a real belief that this new economic reality will result in a lost generation.
The G8 Summit was oddly clarifying: With Europe riven with divisions over the euro and the sclerosis of welfare states in aging societies, the United States wrapped up in increasingly parochial domestic politics, Japan adrift and Russia backsliding into authoritarianism, Canada stood alone as a country with healthy economic prospects and a stable government.
Europe looks increasingly like it is stirring, like the awakening Brunhilda, from its torpor, and could gradually, tentatively, take up the aptitudes of intercontinental leadership of olden time. For America, it may indeed be time to learn something from Europe, but not the Europe whose emulation Barack Obama was urging four years ago.
With the release of the latest growth projections from the Bank of Canada and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it appears that Canada's two-year run at the top of the G7 group of countries could be coming to an end. Both the Bank of Canada and the IMF have lowered this year's growth predictions, paving the way for - get this - America to take over the top spot.
While last week ended on a positive note in terms of Europe's handling of its fiscal crisis, Canadians need to focus their concern on the so-called indirect effects from Europe's woes. The reality is that Europe has a very small footprint when it comes to Canadian trade abroad.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has just floated a proposal to subject all Union members -- not just eurozone members -- to more rigorous budget scrutiny by Union organs. The move is so contrary to the Union treaties and its scope so overreaching to the current eurozone debt crisis that it is doomed to fail.
Looks like the EU has found an alternative to German domination of everybody else. It's the French-German domination of everybody else. Attendees should not be surprised to see new details on the fly that "must" be agreed to or risk destroying the eurozone and the EU.
The pas de deux, performed for weeks by Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, is slowly easing eurozone members into becoming the United States of Europe. Frankly as political theater, it's enormously well-executed and deserves a Broadway Tony.