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Behind the headlines

A wake-up call for the rest of the world?

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What lessons, if any, can be drawn from Liz Truss’s ignominious 44-day premiership? Here’s one, says Jeremy Cliffe in The New Statesman: “Britain is European, not American, at heart.” For decades, British voters have been “indulged in the fantasy” that they can have extensive, European-style public services paid for by American-style low taxes. But whatever Britain’s many “cake-and-eat-it” politicians tell the public, “there is a trade-off”. Trussonomics was an attempt to abandon the European social model and go fully American: small government, low taxes. But Britons, and the markets, weren’t having any of it. Our state is just too big – and with the climate crisis, pandemics, war, and an ageing population, it’s only getting bigger. Truss was right to recognise that Britain has to choose either the American or the European economic path. She just chose the wrong one.

Plenty of Americans enjoy seeing the old country “hit itself repeatedly in the face with a shoe”, says Gerard Baker in The Times. To which the obvious response is: at least we can change our leader without incurring the wrath of a “violent mob”. Smarter Americans see the market reaction to Truss’s unfunded tax cuts as a stark warning about the “looming menace” of debt. Since the global financial crisis, governments and the private sector have floated on an expanding ocean of “free” money, insistent that it would never lead to inflation. “That era is over.” No government – not even the US, with the exorbitant privilege of having the world’s reserve currency – can “defy economic logic” for long. Britain’s “near-death experience” should serve as a wake-up call for everyone else.