Kriser förr och nu2009-03-13

Europas ekonomiska kris påminner om 1930-talets - men inte i alla delar, tack och lov. Den största skillnaden stavas Europeiska unionen.

Ja, 1930-talets går delvis igen.

Häromdagen påminde John Key i Financial Times om att börskraschen 1929 inte var en plötslig kollaps, utan en gradvis nedgång.

"What was remarkable was that the share price decline went on and on. By 1933, US equities had lost threee-quarters of their 1929 value."

Vilket är något för dagens politiker att tänka på.

Det kan ta lång tid att nå botten. Och lika lång tid att kravla sig upp igen. Under tiden kan samhället förändras och nya politiska krafter ta över.

Men 1930-talets misstag måste inte upprepas.

I en intressant artikel i The Economist dras slutsatsen att "The European Union is one reason not to fear the spectre of the 1930s"

"For a start, everybody knows how the 1930s ended. Europe then was a more dangerous place: its poorest citizens were starving and welfare safety-nets were non-existent or inadequate."

Men en del känns igen, fortsätter tidningen:

" Today’s German and French governments talk loudly about clamping down on tax havens: this is a highly visible way to seek extra revenue and punish errant plutocrats. Almost 80 years ago, an identical outrage gripped Europe, when French police in 1932 raided the Paris offices of a Swiss bank for customer records, coming away with the names of French members of parliament, newspaper editors and a brace of bishops. (In a nice irony, the raid persuaded livid Swiss authorities to enshrine banking secrecy in law.)"

Att vilja stänga gränserna är inte heller något nytt:

" Before the depression, France also had one of Europe’s most open labour markets, home to millions of Poles, Czechs, Belgians, Italians, Spaniards and Swiss, plus impressive numbers of political refugees. But between 1932 and 1935, a string of laws and decrees set quotas on foreign workers and stopped them moving from job to job. Tens of thousands, mostly Poles, were eventually expelled by force. The middle classes also protected themselves: new laws closed the French medical and legal professions to foreign-born graduates, often Jewish refugees."

Men den stora skillnaden mellan dagens kris och 1930-talets är alltså enligt The Economist - EU:

" EU membership binds national politicians into a set of essentially liberal, free-trading, internationalist standards.

It is true that competition rules and the freedoms of the single market are being sorely tested, as politicians try to steer rescue funds to domestic companies, banks and workers. But among EU leaders there is a consensus on the need to defend “fundamental rights”. The EU can be expected to block blatantly discriminatory laws on housing, employment or schools. No hothead nationalist can close borders to a neighbour’s goods.

Governments can be taken to court or threatened with suspension. But the EU also operates by peer pressure. This can be pompous and ineffective, as in 2000, when European leaders shunned high-level contacts with Austrian politicians because Jörg Haider, a far-right politician, had joined the ruling coalition. That boycott fell apart when Austria’s government was found to be sticking to mainstream policies. Or it can be brutal and effective: in 1998 the EU warned Slovaks not to re-elect Vladimir Meciar, a nasty nationalist, if they wanted to join the club."

Visst kan krisen komma att fördjupas ytterligare, skriver tidningen:

" Bad things could happen as this crisis deepens. In one nightmare, a fragile EU member could become a failed state. But the EU stands for international solidarity and interdependence. Its maddening complexity amounts to a permanent compromise between competing interests that also makes it a bulwark against extremism. That may not always make Brussels popular with voters. But it does make one thankful that the EU exists."