European confidence was bolstered by a groundbreaking agreement reached in July within the European Union to sell 750 million euros ($ 892 million) in bonds collectively backed by its members. These funds will be deployed in the hardest hit countries like Italy and Spain.
The deal transcended years of opposition from parsimonious northern European countries like Germany and the Netherlands to issuing a common debt. They have been reluctant to put their taxpayers in danger to bail out their southern neighbors like Greece while indulging in crude stereotypes of Mediterranean debauchery. Animosity perpetuated the feeling that Europe was a union only in name – a criticism that was hushed up.
The United States has spent more than Europe on programs to limit the economic damage from the pandemic. But much of the spending has benefited investors, promoting a substantial recovery in the stock market. Emergency unemployment benefits have proven crucial, enabling tens of millions of unemployed Americans to pay rent and buy groceries. But they were due to expire on Friday and there were few signs Congress would extend them.
Europe’s experience has underlined the virtues of its more generous social protection programs, including national health care systems.
Americans feel pressured to go to work, even in dangerous places like meat packing plants, and even when they are sick, because many do not have paid sick leave. Yet they also feel compelled to avoid crowded stores, restaurants and other business venues as millions of people lack health insurance, making hospitalization a financial disaster.