Thomas Friedman on the European Financial Crisis—Can Greeks Become Germans?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Katerina Sokou, 37, a Greek financial journalist at Kathimerini, a daily newspaper, told me this story: A group of German members of the Bavarian Parliament came to Athens shortly after the economic crisis erupted here and met with some Greek politicians, academics, journalists and lawyers at a taverna to evaluate the Greek economy. Sokou said her impression was that the Germans were trying to figure out whether they should be lending money to Greece for a bailout. It was like one nation interviewing another for a loan. “They were not here as tourists; we were giving data on how many hours we work,” recalled Sokou. “It really felt like we had to persuade them about our values.”

Sokou’s observation reminded me of a point made to me by Dov Seidman, the author of the book “How” and the C.E.O. of LRN, which helps companies build ethical business cultures. The globalization of markets and people has intensified to a new degree in the last five years, with the emergence of social networking, Skype, derivatives, fast wireless connectivity, cheap smartphones and cloud computing. “When the world is bound together this tightly,” argued Seidman, “everyone’s values and behavior matter more than ever, because they impact so many more people than ever. ...We’ve gone from connected to interconnected to ethically interdependent.”

As it becomes harder to shield yourself from the other guy’s irresponsible behavior, added Seidman, both he and you had better behave more responsibly — or you both will suffer the consequences, whether you did anything wrong or not. This is doubly true when two different countries share the same currency but not the same government....

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Greece

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Posted July 21, 2011 at 6:00 am

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