In the US we have seen better figures for employment, rising output and a stronger Stock market. This morning we hear that most of their banks pass a tricky stress test. Why are they doing better than Europe?
It all comes back to the banks and the currency. The US left their main clearing banks in the private sector. They taught the bankers a lesson by allowing Lehmans to fail. Their banks were soon weaned off temporary assistance from the authorities. Most of their banks are now in reasonable health, and capable of financing a recovery. The Fed has not needed another round of quantitative easing. The US single currency is a settled system, backed by a political sovereign, and making large transfers from richer areas to poorer areas.
Meanwhile, in the EU, the banks are still not properly fixed. In the UK the two large ones with state shareholdings remain weak. In Euroland the banking systems of Ireland, Spain and Greece in particular were weak. Ireland has had to tackle it by massive state aid to its banks which dragged the country into special measures asnd subsidised international loans. The Euro currency does not work for the peripheral states. Too many places end up with the wrong monetary policy and the wrong exchange rate. They do not receive the large compensating subsidies the poorer parts of the dollar union receive from the centre.
In the UK the banking regulators remain tough, demanding more cash and capital to support the volume of loans they have already made. The wish to clamp down on mortgages has led to the demand for much higher deposits from home buyers. This in turn has led the government to bring in a scheme to offset some of these tougher rules, as the government is frustrated at the sluggishness of the housing market which results from some weak banks and a newly toughened regulator. If you do not fix all the banks, one intervention leads to another, some of them pointing in opposite directions. The present tougher cash and capital restrictions will also lead to Credit Easing, a policy designed to offset some of the new regulatory muscle.