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World Uniter?

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Mike

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Europeans are well aware of the seriousness of their ongoing debt crisis. But they don't, it seems, like to receive lectures from other countries -- especially the United States, which is struggling to deal with its own mountain of debt.


On Tuesday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble curtly rejected recent American criticism of Europe's approach to solving its debt crisis. "I don't think Europe's problems are America's only problems," said Schäuble, who has become increasingly sharp-tongued as the euro crisis deepens. "It's always easier to give other people advice."

Schäuble was referring to strongly worded comments made by US President Barack Obama and US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in recent days. At an event in California on Monday, Obama warned Europeans that their inaction was "scaring the world." The Europeans, he said, "have not fully healed from the crisis back in 2007 and never fully dealt with all the challenges that their banking system faced. It's now being compounded by what's happening in Greece." He continued: "They're going through a financial crisis that is scaring the world, and they're trying to take responsible actions, but those actions haven't been quite as quick as they need to be."

Distracting From Problems at Home

Those comments came hot on the heels of Geithner's remarks over the weekend. Speaking in Washington Saturday at the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, Geithner warned that the European debt crisis represents "the most serious risk now confronting the world economy." He said Europeans needed to do more to create a "firewall" against further contagion and talked of the threat of "cascading default" and runs on banks. "Decisions as to how to conclusively address the region's problems cannot wait until the crisis gets more severe," he said.

German observers have reacted angrily to the comments, saying that the US is in no position to criticize other countries, given its own $14-trillion pile of national debt and ongoing wrangling over the country's debt ceiling. Others claim that Obama is just trying to distract attention from the US's problems and point out that the US president was in California to raise funds and voter support ahead of his reelection campaign next year.
 

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