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Presidential Election Done, Let’s Catch Up with the Rest of the World

America’s preoccupation with the 2012 election often makes it forget that there are a couple of hundred other countries out there. But with the national election complete, it may be a good time to turn our gaze outward a bit and notice things that are happening throughout the rest of the world.

So here’s a smattering of current economic news from not so faraway places:

European Growth Expected to Be Weak in 2013

A recent report by the European Commission, the executive body of the 27-member European Union, suggests that economic growth will be weak across the euro zone throughout 2013 and that unemployment will remain high – peaking at around 11 percent.

The Commission’s pessimistic assessment on the overall economic health of the Union includes a warning that a continued high jobless rate has the potential to “bring social hardship and a destruction of human capital detrimental to longer-term growth.”

France Cuts Payroll Taxes for Businesses

In France, recently-elected Socialist President, François Hollande just did a very un-socialist type of thing: First, he moved to cut payroll taxes on French businesses by $25.6 billion over the next three years in an attempt to jump-start the country’s languishing industrial sector.

Then, in order to partially offset the loss of revenue, his government plans to raise the country’s main sales tax, traditionally considered by the left as the single most regressive levy that a state can impose on its citizens.

Greeks Unhappy about Their Leaders

Greece remains buried under the weight of massive international debt, and its people are in the second day of a nation-wide strike that threatens the legitimacy of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s coalition government, about to implement yet another round of severe austerity measures on an already beaten down populace.

And while further cuts to pensions, salaries and social benefits are in the offing, Greece’s leaders are under fire for failing to crack down on the country’s many tax cheaters and evaders, thousands of whom are purported to have hidden assets in Swiss bank accounts.

China Welcomes New Roster of Leaders

On Thursday a new generation of Chinese leaders will take the helm of the Communist Party, and thus the country.  One of the major challenges for the new leaders will be dealing with the relatively recent social phenomenon of mass protests against the nation’s decades-old policies of expansive and pervasive industrialization and growth which often destroyed neighborhoods and despoiled the environment.

Over the past few weeks, mostly youthful demonstrators have rallied against the construction of a copper smelting project in northern Sichuan province, a proposed coal-fired power plant in the Southeast, and the expansion of a petrochemical facility near Shanghai.

Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it in 2012, helping birth Debt.org into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering the high finance world of college and professional sports for major publications, including the Associated Press, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. His interest in sports has waned some, but he is as passionate as ever about not reaching for his wallet. Bill can be reached at [email protected].

International flags at United Nations in New York

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