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About the Debate
As Europe started to reconstruct after World War II, the French, Italian, and German countries moved progressively towards a union that sought to reconcile the antagonisms not only between states, but also within the states regarding the expansion of the social bargain to the broader population. Through the building of European institutions and a more liberal economic order that favored the movement of trade, capital, and people within a common market and currency zone, Europe would gain not only peace, and a more pacific Germany, but also prosperity. In sacrificing the social bargains of the post-war era, the Great Economic Recession of 2008-2012 was a brutal social and economic shock to many countries, especially to Iceland, Cyprus, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and the new members. As sovereigns lost access to markets, both the ECB and the IMF forced countries into accepting a new political bargain imposed by technocrats: structural reforms and austerity in exchange for funding. Is this remarkable legacy of the Great Recession the new European reality?
Professors Adam Tooze and Tano Santos invite you to read the related historical documents posted on this page to prepare you for an open debate on the question: is the European project, and its institutions of the post-war social bargains, dead? The cause of death, the liberal economic reforms?
David L. and Elsie M. Dodd Professor of Finance
Co-Director of Heilbrunn Center for Graham and Dodd Investing
Columbia Business School
Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of History