Andrew Neil

European inaction

European inaction
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Consider the response of America and Europe to the current financial turmoil. In Washington, the US Federal Reserve slashes interest rates by 75 basis points and the Bush administration proposes a $150bn stimulus package of tax cuts, which will probably win bipartisan support in Congress.


Back on this side of the Atlantic, Gordon Brown summons the leaders of France, Germany and Italy (plus the boss of the European Commission) to a meeting in 10 Downing Street. After an afternoon of deliberations, the British Prime Minister emerges to mouth all his usual cliches about stability, transparency and co-operation. Not a single measure that will make a blind bit of difference to the current economic slowdown that will blight Britain and continental Europe this year.


Meanwhile, the Bank of England and the European Central Bank indicate that we can expect only modest cuts in interest rates, one small step at a time, largely because both are more worried about inflation than recession.


The bottom line? America has taken major fiscal and monetary steps to reduce the risk of recession in 2008. Europe has done next to nothing on both fronts.