Europe's Response To Geithner's Advice: "I'd Like To Hear How The United States Will Reduce Its Deficits ... And Its Debts"
Two years after being laughed out by a bunch of Chinese students, Tim Geithner realized that his hypocrisy may pass muster in the Beltway, but the crowd is tougher across the Atlantic. As Reuters reports, the much anticipated meeting between Geithner and the euro FinMins in Wroclaw, Poland, lasted all of thirty minutes and if nothing else managed to unite the Europeans... in their ridicule and derision of the man that has become a global muppet caricature. The litany of quotes needs no explanation: "I found it peculiar that even though the Americans have significantly worse fundamental data than the euro zone that they tell us what we should do and when we make a suggestion ... that they say no straight away," Maria Fekter, [Austria's Finance Minister] told reporters afterwards, recalling a difference of opinion between Geithner and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on how to reinvigorate the euro zone and tax financial deals." And the kicker came from Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders, who responded 'tartly' that "We can always discuss with our American colleagues. I'd like to hear how the United States will reduce its deficits ... and its debts." Alas, as Tim has found the hard way, being one of the biggest offendors when it comes to collapsed economies does take away from his credibility. So if we may suggest, Timmy should i) focus on fixing the US economy, and since he has repeatedly failed at that ii) to immediately resign.
Geithner's decision to travel to the small city of Wroclaw to discuss the sovereign debt problems of Greece, Ireland, Italy and the wider euro zone was the clearest indication yet of the severity of the near two-year-old crisis, which now threatens the global economy not just the single currency bloc.
Officials said Geithner was coming to propose how the region might try leveraging its emergency bailout fund -- the 440 billion euro European Financial Stability Facility -- to better tackle the crisis, much as the United States used leverage to handle the fallout from the subprime collapse.
But however good Geithner's intentions, the indications were that the meeting did not go as smoothly as he might have hoped.
Held in a concert hall, the gathering lasted for about 30 minutes. The euro zone ministers arrived together by bus. Geithner was sped to the doors in a private car.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the chairman of the Eurogroup, was even more to the point.
"I don't think it would be wise for me to report from an informal meeting that we have with the treasury secretary. We are not discussing the expansion or increase of the EFSF with a non-member of the euro area," he said.
And the very lonely thoughts of our very own SecTreason:
"One of the starkest ways to emphasize the importance of Europe getting on top of this is that you don't want the future of Europe to rest in the hands of those who provide financing to the IMF," he said.
"There is no reason for Europe to be in that position and it would be very damaging to the credibility of the endeavour here in Europe," he said, before departing to warm applause.
"Of course your financial challenges in Europe are within your capacity to manage financially, you just have to choose to do it," Geithner told the audience, sitting cross-legged and slightly slouched in his chair.
Does that mean that Timmy to the G never chose to do manage our own challenges before? If so, can he at least manage to sign the dotted line on his resignation letter.
The bottom line:
For many in the meeting, Austria's Fekter most particularly, his message fell flat.
"I had expected that when he tells us how he sees the world that he would listen to what we have to say," she said.
Well, so much for the US telling Europe what to do...