Europe, Part II

Most of the rhetoric on Europe in the press is extremely short term in nature, focusing on current events, struggles, and predominantly fiscal issues, country by country and across the Eurozone. What a mistake.  Europe is a grand place, and Western civilization, birthed on the continent and on the British Isles, has now been firmly in place for over 1000 years.  Most of the modern advancements, creature comforts, and quality of life enhancements found their genesis in Europe and European society.

And yet - Europe is an incredibly complex place with 400 million people, dozens of countries and principalities, grand history but tortured history, and disparate languages, cultures, priorities, societies, and communities that make the entire concept of a "eurozone", European community, and European unity grandiose at a minimum, and unrealistic and unwise at a maximum.  Much has been written about the fiscal distinctions between Northern and Southern Europe.  Again, this is a pedantic and tactical discussion.  It's much more complicated than that.  For all the discussion of the powerhouse nature of the German and French nations, their debt to GDP is approaching 100 percent for both countries.

Additionally, Germany, the strong man of Europe, cannot Atlas-like prop up all the other countries indefinitely.  It is simply not that strong.

But perhaps more importantly, duo-millenium frictions, hatreds, suspicions, and history between all the European nation states and tribes are an unspoken weight dragging down the "One Europe" process.  The French and Germans so far have done an impressive job keeping these underlying tensions at bay.  But forever?  It may be too difficult a task.  Much graffiti, media articles, mutterings, and outright rants about "Nazis" and "the boot of the oppressor" are appearing more and more frequently in Greece, Italy, and other nations.

Wars between the Franks, Scots, Picts, Huns, Normans, Saxons, Angles, Vandals, Celts, and the other tribes that make up the modern Euro nation states are not completely dead and buried.  Do Romanians, Bulgarian Magyars, Czechs, Hungarians, Turkish Ottamans, Muslim French, Norwegian slavs, and English agrarians really have enough in common to be One?

I guess we will find out in the coming decade.  History, culture, language, and competing agendas argue that limited unity is a more likely outcome than full unity.  The differences are so stark.  The key should be to avoid a total meltdown of the Eurozone, with resulting anarchy, class warfare, and disruption to communities, families, and economic and social harmony.

Europe faces a fiscal decade or more long workout of its tragic debt burden.

It will be long, hard work, and maintenance of fiscal, societal, and political stability along the way will be no small achievement - especially in the weaker countries where suffering is more immediate and extreme.

As Europe is our country's largest trading partner, developments will have to be monitored closely - but make no mistake - this is a multi-year, multi-faceted complicated workout.

Happy Independence Day!  Unlike Europe, the United States of America is truly "e pluribus unum".  This comes from Articles of Confederation, a Constitution, the long term concept of a "melting pot", and a longstanding tradition of classic liberalism, independence, but acquiescence concurrently with American unity and patriotism.  As we assess current immigration policy difficulties, the enduring concept of unity, assimilation, and American unity above cultural and historical roots must be maintained.  I am an American, well before I am of English, Scottish, and Scotch-Irish heritage.  Although I may be a Texan before an American.

This material is not intended to be used as a general guide to investing, or as a source of any specific investment recommendations, and makes no implied or express recommendations. This is not an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security.