On 12 March 2013, Caroline Atkinson, Senior Director in US President Barack Obama’s National Security Staff for International Economics, gave a Policy Center lecture at the House of Finance. Her talk about “International Economic Priorities for Obama’s Second Term: US and Europe as Partners” was the inaugural lecture of a new SAFE Policy Center lecture series.
Caroline Atkinson spoke of the partnership between the US and the European Union. She compared their different responses to the financial crisis and their strategies to overcome the economic downturn with fiscal and structural policies. A major challenge after the crisis had been to secure growth and jobs without questioning the mid-term goal of returning to a level of sustainable debt. A striking difference in the approaches has been the use of fiscal stimuli in the US compared to a focus on fiscal consolidation in Europe. In Atkinson’s view, fiscal consolidation may have been more damaging to growth in the peripheral countries than had been expected.
Atkinson highlighted the importance of trade between the US and the European Union for their partnership. She discussed potential difficulties for a comprehensive trade agreement. As tariffs between the partners are already low, the gains from a comprehensive trade agreement must come from harmonization of standards and regulations. Atkinson was available for questions from the interested audience after the lecture.