‘incomprehension’: Europe Flummoxed By Us Government Shutdown

The Christian Science Monitor Weekly Digital Edition But it is with incomprehension that Europe views the US this week, after a congressional dispute over President Obama’s healthcare plan led to a US government shutdown. So far European markets have reacted calmly to America’s political gridlock. And the shutdown has little direct impact on specific transatlantic relations. But it does add to a sense in Europe that the US is bogged down and focused elsewhere, even as discontent over governance is equallydiscernible on both sides of the Atlantic. RECOMMENDED: Think you know Europe? Take our geography quiz. It fuels an already confused debate when it comes to the future of transatlantic relations, says Ian Lesser, senior director for foreign and security policy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Brussels. Europe is already worried that the US is pivoting to Asia, and what this would mean for European strategic interests…. [The shutdown] will also reinforce existing European anxieties about a more inward-looking, less activist US. The Obama administration has acknowledged the global impact of the shutdown. It does have an effect on our relationships around the world and it cuts straight to the obvious question: can you rely on the United States as a reliable partner to fulfill its commitments to its allies? Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said to reporters this week. It does cast a very significant pall over America’s credibility to our allies when this kind of thing happens. A loss of confidence in the US? While a long-term shutdown would impact the global economy and thus Europe, it doesn’t directly mar transatlantic policies, such as the trade agreement negotiations that are underway. But it is the expression of a deeper problem of failed checks and balances that will impact American ties with Europe, says Josef Braml, a transatlantic expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin.

Will GM’s Massive Losses in Europe Continue?

Nearly all the partnership countries do the vast majority of their trade with Russia and rely on it for gas. Moscow is concerned about a flood of European goods entering the country if Kiev signs a free trade agreement with the EU. Trade is particularly sensitive: Russia was Ukraine’s biggest trading partner but not any longer. Now it is the EU, with 27 percent of Ukraine’s exports and 34 percent of its imports, and the volume growing by double digits annually. Russia is also wary of the EU’s broader agenda. Drawing in countries in the region could over time help Europe secure a degree of influence over vital gas and oil supply routes towards the West at the expense of Russia’s dominance. As a result, Putin has threatened to impose punitive tariffs and other restrictions on imports via Ukraine if it goes ahead with the EU agreement. “We would somehow have to stand by our market, introduce protectionist measures,” Putin said last month. “We are saying this openly in advance. As if to underline the message, Russia has taken steps against Lithuania, an EU member state that currently holds the union’s presidency, imposing extra customs checks on Lithuanian trucks and heavy losses for Lithuania’s large trucking industry. And in the back of the minds of all the partnership countries is the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, when Moscow made very clear its power over a former republic.

October 2, 2013 | Comments (0) The Opel Mokka crossover, a close sibling of the U.S.-market Buick Encore, has been a sorely needed hit for GM in Europe. Photo credit: General Motors. As mostGeneral Motors (NYSE: GM ) shareholders know all too well, Europe has been one of the biggest drags on GM’s share price over the last couple of years. Even as China continues to be a bright spot, and the General’s U.S. results improve, Europe — where GM has lost more than $17 billion since 1999 — still worries Wall Street. Those worries have started to ease a bit in recent months. GM was able to narrow its losses last quarter, and there are increasing signs that the company’s restructuring effort — just the latest in a long string of attempts to put GM Europe back into the black — is finally bearing fruit. How will Europe impact GM’s upcoming third-quarter report? In this video, Motley Fool contributor John Rosevear explains how GM is slowly but surely turning its European operation around, and at what shareholders should expect to hear when third-quarter results are released. Profit From Rising Gas Prices Think the days of $100 oil are gone? Think again. In fact, the market is heading in that direction now. But for investors that are positioned to profit from the return of $100 oil, it can’t come soon enough.