Four years after the onset of the Great Recession, a second and possibly worse global slump is starting to seem possible. If this happens, governments won’t be able to say they were taken by surprise. It will happen because governments have frozen in the face of hazards that are well understood and readily avoidable.
It’s hard to say whether the policy paralysis is worse in Europe or the U.S. I give the edge to Europe, where the failure of leadership has been more thorough and sustained. Still, the difficulties in the U.S. are easier to overcome, so neglecting them is more boldly incompetent. The country’s politicians, busy campaigning, have effectively said they’ll get back to us, maybe, after November’s elections. That’s audacious.