Like any other philosophical concept, a perfect market based on symmetric information can never be attained. Peter Coy's incisive and critical review of The Roaring Nineties by Joseph E. Stiglitz ("The Boom: What went wrong" (Books, Nov. 10) demonstrates this forcefully and convincingly.
Unwelcome bizarre events that occurred in the '90s were not due to the inherent weaknesses of globalization. The root causes of the failures must be sought in the primordial human characteristics of untamed greed, dissimulation, and power-mongering. These are the factors, though not acknowledged universally, that undermined effective execution of the principles of globalization. These also inhibited the benefits of globalization from reaching the communities to which they were addressed.
It is fashionable to blame the ends when in reality the culprit is the means.
Calcutta As the CEO of a small media group with operations in Paris and Los Angeles, the gap in economic growth rates between Europe and the U.S. is something I look at closely ("How Europe could grow again," European Edition Cover Story, Nov. 17). Finally, a publication has the courage and honesty not only to say what holds Europe back but also to propose some useful suggestions.
Frankly, without some of the basic reforms you suggest with respect to taxation, work hours, flexibility in hiring/firing of French employees, etc., which would certainly serve to ease the uphill entrepreneurial battle, my small contribution to European growth will undoubtedly be headed stateside in the not-too-distant future.
I hope Brussels reads this issue with great interest and a lack of ego and pride.
Your series of thoughtful articles on why Europe's economies perform so poorly (and what can be done to improve them) is a fresh reminder -- if one were needed -- that BusinessWeek is head-and-shoulders above the competition. It is rare to see such delightful and dispassionate writing about Europe here in Britain, where the debate has been hijacked by either skeptics or complete Europhiles.
Thank you. Let the debate continue.
If all the little reforms BusinessWeek suggests were implemented, the growth rate of real gross domestic product in Germany, Italy, and France would rise by approximately 0.5 percentage points, bringing it close to 2.5%. This means that in 30 years, GDP per capita in the European Union would be close to 40,000 euros per year. The only problem is that if we look at the performance of the U.S. economy over the last decade and consider its recent rebound, in 30 years, GDP per capita in the U.S. could be above 120,000 euros per year. While Americans would go on living the American dream, we in Europe would be stuck with the European nightmare. Thanks for your recommendations, but wish us a better future.
Your article on Europe, like most before it, is the usual out-of-focus and ill-informed American plea of "why can't they be like us?" The numbers may tell a story of "stagnation and disaster," but the reality is quite different. You may look down on Europe and call us the Old World, but in terms of quality of life, culture, and style, we inhabit a quite different world. We like our high social support even if it does mean high taxation. We value the peace and prosperity of orderly and progressive economic policies, which respect our valuable differences (at least in Europe, you really know which city you are in when you wake up).
Most Europeans would not want to live like people in the U.S. Our institutions reflect our deep skepticism about many aspects of democracy as practiced in the U.S. We recognize that law, politics, and economy are a matter of consent, which often means modifying and even abandoning the simplicity of the market and the ballot box.
And by the way, Margaret Thatcher did dare to cut unemployment benefits severely, as well as pensions, welfare, public investment, public services, and so on. It will take Britain two decades to recover from the damage of that regime.
London It baffles me how, according to the telemarketer lobby, free speech could be read to include the right to invade a citizen's privacy ("Will the right to pester hold up?" Legal Affairs, Nov. 10). My right to choose -- and have that wish honored -- not to receive intrusive phone calls, unwanted mail, or unsolicited e-mails in no way curbs the free-speech rights of marketers. They are still at liberty to say what they want as long as they do not invade what is my private sphere.
To require otherwise would be like a mandatory military draft, pressing all consumers, willing or not, into the service of the telemarketer. From another angle, it is as offensive as reinstatement of daily prayers would be in public schools -- nay, in every home: Thou shalt listen to your daily telemarketing call.
How to avoid spam without sacrificing freedom of speech? I have a suggestion: Everyone who sends an e-mail to "foreigners" needs to have a 10-line presentation of her/himself, plus their intention and miniportrait. If not, a filter (from any smart antispam software company) scrutinizes the spam, deletes it, and takes some counteraction against the sender. The filter could also send statistics on incoming spam back to the antispam software company for checkup and publishing on their Web site.
V?ster?s, Sweden The explanation in "School daze at British universities" (European Business, Nov. 10) on the causes of the ever-increasing funding gaps at British universities and the viability of top-up fees to fill them misses the point. It is correct that student numbers have swollen in recent years, but this is due primarily to the current Labour Administration's misguided attempt at social engineering through higher education, aimed at the grossly unrealistic target of 50% of the population to have attended university by 2010.
Top-up fees may allow for subsidies to those from less fortunate backgrounds but will contribute very little (if at all) toward producing any of the extra revenue desperately needed by universities to raise standards. Only by reducing the numbers of students attending academic courses to realistic levels based on ability while simultaneously hiking financial support (which, as you state, is only likely to rise through an increase in fees and a change in tax laws regarding donations) are Britain's universities going to be saved from growing mediocrity.
William F. Krupski