The Netherlands’ ruling center-right coalition unveiled an expansionary budget on Tuesday, when King Willem-Alexander read out his annual speech from the throne to set out the government’s priorities for the next fiscal year.
Whereas the Dutch government, then also led by Mark Rutte, raised taxes and cut public spending during the last economic crisis to keep its budget deficit under the EU’s 3-percent ceiling, it now argues against austerity and is borrowing the equivalent of 7.2 percent of GDP (down from an earlier estimate of 8.7 percent).
Rutte argues the savings made in previous years allow the government to avoid cuts this time.
France has unveiled a $100 billion stimulus program, worth 4 percent of GDP over two years, to help its economy recover from the effects of COVID-19.
The money is split almost equally between support for businesses, investments in the green economy, and health and social programs. It comes on top of the €460 billion France has spent on exemptions from social charges, furlough subsidies and soft loans to keep businesses afloat.
With the Brexit transition period ending in just four months, concern is rising that the United Kingdom might crash out of the EU’s common market and customs regime without a deal.
Not everyone is worried. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, argued it “wouldn’t be the end of the world” if Britain left without a deal. Right-wing economists are looking forward to setting “attractive tax rates” once the United Kingdom is free of the EU’s grasp. The UK, they believe, could become a “Singapore-on-Thames”, gain a “competitive advantage” over the EU and draw businesses and investment away from continental Europe.
If the German economy does poorly, so will the eurozone’s. A mere .2 percent growth is projected for the first quarter of 2020. This should be a wakeup call to German policymakers.
There are the usual suspects: underdeveloped infrastructure, underinvestment in education, export dependency.
They all stem from Germany’s obsession with surpluses. Revenues generated by exports are not reinjected into the economy. Rather, they sit comfortably in savings accounts. This is the reason for negative interest rates.
Not spending money is one way to get rich. But to grow its economy, or prevent a slowdown, Germany must put its money to work: invest in education, infrastructure and public goods.
Its reluctance to do so affects everyone in the euro area. Germany accounts for nearly 30 percent of the eurozone’s GDP. If Germany spent more at home, it would reduce its current account surplus and increase demand for the products and services of other European nations. Read more “Germany’s Surplus Obsession Hurts the Eurozone”
The leaders of Italy’s ruling populist parties have backed down from a fight with the European Commission over their 2019 budget.
Luigi Di Maio, the labor minister and leader of the Five Star Movement, and Matteo Salvini, the interior minister and leader of the far-right League, said after a meeting on Sunday that they had given their blessing to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s revised spending plan, which reduces next year’s shortfall from 2.4 to 2 percent of GDP. Read more “Italy Backs Down from Budget Fight with EU”