Europe Dithers

Posted by: Tom Keene on July 18, 2011

It was hot. That corporate hot where you spend ten hours in an hermetically air-conditioned world headquarters, to the car, to the elite Fifth Avenue address and up to the plain yet immodest ballroom, 15-foot windows flung open to 90-degree September.

Wine, water (still or sparkling?) was served and re-served as we saunaed awaiting the honored guest.

He arrived, small and diminutive at 94. In union, we worried. The heat. His arduous schedule. It must be late for him? What followed I will never forget. As indian summer bore into the room, Otto von Hapsburg, or more accurately, Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xavier Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius von Habsburg, stood and began a half-hour, pitch-perfect statement on the union of Europe. His Europe. His belief and perspective from his family’s distant past to then, a pre-financial crisis future.

I was deeply moved by his vitality and fortitude as he held court in the uncomfortable heat. He was razor sharp.

Otto von Hapsburg is dead at 98. Austrians, and others, attended. As the euro nears its 12 year anniversary, in 2011 summer heat, political and economic Europe dithers.

Reader Comments

Ric Ball

July 18, 2011 2:44 PM

Bring back the Monarchies! Democracy is NOT the least bad system...... Take a look at the headlines, the dread lines.

The Habsburgs ran a culturally and ethnically disparate Empire for 350 years. A democracy would have atomized within a fact it did.

Democracy has a four year time frame, but at least the monarchies thought a generation deep. Illogical, but effective.

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EconoChat captures Tom Keene's thoughts on economics, finance and investment. He is editor-at-large for Bloomberg News and hosts Bloomberg Surveillance and Bloomberg on the Economy on NYC1130, Sirius 129 and XM 130 and Surveillance Midday on Bloomberg Television. His complete interviews are at Tom Keene on Demand. Look for Tom on twitter @tomkeene

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