Why the Green New Deal is a Response to the European Debt Crisis

Gerhard Schick

The global economic crisis has not been overcome; its character has merely changed. For us parliamentarians, its most tangible characteristic is the smoldering debt crisis in some Euro countries. Similar to the crisis in the banking sector, the European government debt crisis is typical of a large-scale financial crisis, the “Second Great Depression,” and managing it has to be addressed in this context. If it were only an uncontrolled government debt accumulation in Europe, then it would now be appropriate to simply apply debt brakes to manage the public debt, and to work with stronger sanction options. But would this have prevented the problems in Ireland or Spain? No. The financial crises in Spain and Ireland have absolutely nothing to do with government irresponsibly incurring debt. The government debt only increased when the government had to react to the excessive indebtedness of the private households and banks that it had previously permitted.

The conservative reinterpretation of the debt crisis as a purely governmental debt crisis due to excessive government spending is politically smart but factually incorrect. Drastic austerity programs alone are therefore not very useful in overcoming the crisis. On the contrary, the current crisis policy aggravates the crisis in many areas.

Moreover, we should not forget that we have barely made any progress in coping with the crises of poverty and distribution, or in the crises involving the climate and resources. Climate change has largely disappeared from the headlines, and, in terms of concrete government action, the brakes are being applied to many climate policy questions. Research results, however, show to what extent climate change has advanced and what tipping points are imminent. And, as in 2008, the connection with the strong increase in commodity prices becomes evident, as commodities increasingly become investment targets, with food and energy prices in strong correlation. The bottom billion has not gotten any farther today than it was three years ago, when we deliberately included this problem in the concept of the Green New Deal. It was, and, therefore, is correct to combine these three crises and to show the way out of them with an extensive package of measures, the Green New Deal. With its three pillars:

• financial market regulation,
• ecological modernization of the economy, and
• new social balance,

the Green New Deal is still the right answer.

However, we must develop our concept further because the situation has changed and new knowledge is now available. It is actually the currently emerging slowdown in real GDP
growth, which could soon lead to a recession, forcing us to take a position with regard to stimulus plans or the like. It is also important to place the current European crisis in the context of our response to the global economic crisis. It is my intention to contribute with this text in some way in regard to the financial market situation, the public debt, and the crisis of distribution by first analyzing the current situation in the financial markets, and, based on this, discussing proposals for the solution.

Read the full paper at The Heinrich Boell Foundation.

One Response to “Why the Green New Deal is a Response to the European Debt Crisis”

  1. Craigmc says:

    It appears to me that the European debt crisis is playing to big of a roll in America’s stock prices. I think it is more Chicken Little than actual market forces.