European laws restrict spending, economic growth
Laws that discourage spending may be holding back European economic growth, writes Marcus Walker of the Wall Street Journal.
Generally, European governments use a myriad red tape to induce savings and reduce consumption. For example, shops are required to close early to save staff from long hours; businesses are required to make a comfortable profit on each item, limiting price competition; sales are allowed only during January and July.
The result is a continent that is characterised by high prices, short store hours, and very little consumer spending:
Residents of the 12 nations using the euro save 10.5 percent of their income; Americans save less than 1 percent.
This year, European consumption growth is 1.2 percent, as compared to 3.6 percent in the United States.
The average American spends more than $5,500 a year using credit cards; the equivalent figure for Germany is $64, and for France, just $30.
With such weak consumption in the euro-zone, its economic growth is stagnating, says Walker. The region's economy will likely grow by 1.1 percent from 2002 to 2004, compared to more than 3 percent for the U.S. economy.
Source: Marcus Walker, Behind Slow Growth in Europe: Citizens' Tight Grip on Wallets, Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2004.
For text http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB110263584032796265-search,00.html
For more on International: Institutions and Growthhttp://www.ncpa.org/iss/int/
FMF Policy Bulletin/ 21 December 2004
Publish date: 04 January 2005
The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.