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Zakaria claims "Europe is in deep trouble."
These days we all talk about the rise of Asia and the challenge to America, but it may well turn out that the most consequential trend of the next decade will be the economic decline of Europe.

It's often noted that the European Union has a combined gross domestic product that is approximately the same as that of the United States. But the E.U. has 170 million more people. Its per capita GDP is 25 percent lower than that of the United States, and, most important, that gap has been widening for 15 years. If present trends continue, the chief economist at the OECD argues, in 20 years the average U.S. citizen will be twice as rich as the average Frenchman or German.

Sounds horrible, right? But, Zakaria conveniently omits a serious bit of information. Look below the fold.

The EU of 2006 is NOT the EU of 1991. Half its membership has been added since then.

From Wikipedia:

Added in 1995: Austria, Finland, Sweden

Added in 2004: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia.

That's actually one more new member than the membership before that point.

As I e-mailed Fareed:

You nowhere mentioned that the EU of 15 years ago is NOT the EU of today. Many of the post-1990 countries of the EU are, of course, from the former Soviet bloc and came into the EU with lower standards of living.

I'm guessing that your omission was deliberate.

It's obvious he's comparing apples and oranges to anybody with a fifth-grade education. We'll see if he responds.

Here's the place to give him some e-mail.

Originally posted to steverino on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 01:25 PM PST.


So, which is it with Fareed?

92%24 votes
7%2 votes

| 26 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Bravo ... (none)
    I was disgusted by his piece on multiple levels.  You point to such a clear, fact-based issue in his presentation / argument.  What is the chance that Newsweak or the Post will publish this item which shows his flaws?  Zero or None?

    9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

    by besieged by bush on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 01:35:39 PM PST

  •  Gah (4.00)
    There's so much in that article that's stupid or false that it's hard to know where to start. It's totally ideologically driven, as usual

    Here's a rebuttal on some parts of it:

    In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
    Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

    by Jerome a Paris on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 01:38:45 PM PST

  •  that was a bogus column (4.00)
    I had the displeasure of reading it over breakfast. Along with your excellent point about EU membership, my other beef with this column is that it assumes the majority of americans are "average" americans, and same for europe. It's one of those tiny points that makes stats like per capita GDP totally bogus. In the US, if 5% of the population controls 95% of the wealth, then the per capita GDP figure means squat, because very few americans are actually at that average figure.

    Simply put, if the gap between the rich and poor is much bigger in the US than it is in Europe, Zakaria's comparison is totally groundless, as more Europeans are close to the median GDP figure than Americans, the vast majority of whom are significantly below the figure while a tiny few are lightyears above.

    Mediocris, located at -6.13/-5.90

    by zenbowl on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 01:38:58 PM PST

  •  Do you have the data ..... (none)
    ... on how the GDP of France or Germany 15 years ago compared to that of the USA, and how it's changed since? Not trying to poke holes in your argument, but I am curious.
    •  the german data is interesting, but useless (none)
      because East and West Germany united in 1990, the economic figures are all silly from the first few years afterwards. But check out this chart from the US Dept. of labor which shows 10 year GDP per capita (which I still think is a bogus statistic). It shows that EU-15 averages 2.0 percent growth per annum, while the US averages 2.2 percent. Not a big difference. Interestingly, though, Norway is at 2.2 (same as US) Portugal at 2.3, Spain at 2.6, Sweden at 2.6 and UK at 2.5. Ireland is an incredible 6.6 percent (amazing what a little peace can do). And Canada is actually higher as well, 2.3. France and Germany have a bit of catching up to do at 1.8 and 1.3 each, but overall it's hardly grim news for Europe.

      Mediocris, located at -6.13/-5.90

      by zenbowl on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 01:47:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Here you go. (none)

      Data taken from here.  GDP per Capita:

      United States: 7,530
      France: 5,970 (79% of US)
      Germany: 5,660 (75% of US)
      United States: 35,750
      France: 26,920 (75% of US)
      Germany: 27,100 (76% of US)

      You can see the rankings here.

      Only Norway, Ireland and Luxemborg compare to the US, and that's primarily due to their small populations.

  •  read the article..... (none)
    he's right and you people are bitching about what@!$^&$&???  

    Frames not Names!!!!

    by bikko100 on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 02:16:39 PM PST

    •  What is he right about, exactly? (none)
      Go read this, using the same OECD report he quotes:

      In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
      Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

      by Jerome a Paris on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 02:22:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  it's not a Europe sucks piece, IMHO (none)
        European econonmy has a few bright spots but the historical leaders like Germany have educational issues that are just starting to be resolved.  Zakaria speaks about technology and research institutions and that is already a major concern within Europe a few years ago before China and India.  Concentrating on OECD numbers is fruitless in my opinion and avoids the crux of the article.

        I can understand the push back to his article as typical Anti-Europe crap but Zakaria isn't Freidman.

        On the whole, from the article, I am getting that Europe is in a bad spot because of aging populations and social welfare programs.  While his argument isn't complete because it doesn't discuss the decline within the context of Europe's infrastructure along with China and India.

        Frames not Names!!!!

        by bikko100 on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 02:54:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I understand what you say (none)
          but he makes such disingenuous use of statistics that it's hard to take anything else seriously. (For instance, saying that the UK is "between the US and continental Europe" is like saying that Canada is much richer than the rest of North America (because it includes Mexico and the Caribean) - it's meaningless, but it implies that countries with "flexible" markets and "real" capitalism (and English language) do better than the "rigid", "declining", "Statist" continental ones - the usual frame these days about Europe - and true only thnaks to such malicious use of statistics.

          In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
          Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

          by Jerome a Paris on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 03:14:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  essentially.... (none)
        i'm ignoring large parts of the article.  If i take into consideration the implications of what the face value of what is being said I can understand the anger.  

        Blame it on the media....i can't take anything at face value anymore.....

        Frames not Names!!!!

        by bikko100 on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 02:56:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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