Wednesday, June 16, 2010

France and Spain face the music

Traditionally the US economy has been market-oriented than that of the European Union and the government has played a less active role.  Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the policy changes that have taken place since President Obama took office, no one should act surprised that the US government has been more activist. 

But here is a surprise: today's NYT reports that both France and Spain are taking steps to better align their economies with market forces.  France is going to raise its minimum retirement age from 60 to 62.  This will help reduce future budget deficits, along with an increase in the highest tax bracket from 40 to 41 percent.  It also recognizes the simple fact that people are living longer, more productive lives. 

Spain is changing its mandatory severance pay from 45 days for each year worked at its former company to 33 days.  Many companies have shifted to temporary one year contracts that are exempt from this regulation, so the intended effect is to encourage permanent job creation. 

The Times calls these steps austerity measures.  I would call them coming to grips with economic reality.  When can we expect the US to face the music on Social Security and the deficit?  

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