"I read one blurb in the local paper saying that everyone at G-8 agreed to 'spark growth' in Europe as a way out of the mess. Spark growth?? What the fuck does that mean...exactly? "
You see, the worldwide economy and its models, targets, statistics, values, etc. are all based on the "American Economic Model": And the Model is really precisely the American one, the USA model, as that is the model of Capitalism, Free Enterprise, Consumption, Innovation, Technology etc. that was really successful in the 20th century, that really fixed the baseline and ground point from which all other models and economies and societies and countries would then be measured.
But the model really only ever worked mostly in the USA: it is a case of Capitalism, but especially Consumerism in only one country, all other countries don't come close, will never come close, cannot come close even if they wanted to. And why is this ? because no other country is set up like the USA, with large homes, single family homes, large so that you can fill them up with all kinds of junk made all over the world, 2 car garages, wide streets, front and back yards, etc. And manipulable wood homes, not made of concrete like most of the world where it is hard to modify your home, hence huge Home Depot stores with a huge selection of items, consumption of items and such.
With regards to this:
http://money.msn.com/family-money/10-st ... ws-on-jobs
Once again, you can see how the USA, the Mother of the Modern Economic Model (the concept of GDP was invented in and for the USA) is really the only model that can work compared to the rest of the world: compare the situation in the USA where there are places that are doing good jobwise, low unemployment, but it is diffused across the country, it is all mixed up, you can go from one place to another, from one state to another and find some work and some opportunity and such. Compare this with the EU where all the "Bad Economies" are concentrated in given countries, in the south, Spain, Italy that has a rigid job market, insane property prices, huge Home Price Bubbles due to the huge insecurity of those populations who couldn't do anything else but hike home prices and rents for decades on end, who don't easily fire and hire (they are now firing mostly, but they hire very few people) because they are static, stagnant economies that can't and don't move around, etc.
And also compare it to Germany the superstar, the Germans don't consume like crazy, they don't buy stuff like crazy, they don't follow the USA model of consumption, of always change, hire and fire so people can change jobs and cities and find something that may suit them better, (in the USA the possibility for change for the better is a bit more conceivable, in the EU you are tied to your situation forever) they have rigid class systems, you can't change easily, but Germany at least didn't have the huge Property Price and Home Value Bubble that killed off Italy and Spain and such.
And in fact, the most important single factor that is keeping Italy and Spain from growing is the huge disconnect between their puny salaries (800 dollars a month) and their huge home prices to rent or buy (at least 1,000 dollars a month), but they blame the low growth on government workers and labor laws and the rigid labor markets but have no intention of changing Home Prices, etc.
But espcially compare the USA to Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and such or Russia or China and such: they only have a few cities where a "Middle Class" lives, only a few metropolitan centers that concentrate all of the jobs and wealth (like Russia with Moscow and St. Petersburg) so they also have high Home Prices, very little real room to grow as space wise, no large homes, no large consumption, etc.
And in fact those countries have very good "Statistics", good GDP growth and good economic numbers, like Taiwan and Hong Kong, but on the ground, they have a hugely inferior standard of living compared to the USA, they only have numbers going for them, not real wealth, like the USA that has huge shopping centers, large homes to fill with consumer crap, even Japan and Germany don't cosume anything, they have saturated markets, lines when going everywhere, crowded, they will never reach the level of wealth of the USA, the USA is at least twice as rich as almost any other country.
But it is due to the very specific history and structure of the USA and its economy, large homes, large roads, built around cars and consumption, large markets, flexible work environment, diffused economy, not concnetrated only in a few cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzen or like Seoul or Tokyo, etc.
So you really think that China can keep on buying 15 million cars a year ? and where will they put them ? in their tight cities crowded traffic jammed cities ? same for most of the rest of the world: the rest of the world simply has huge limitations to any American Style Economic Growth, which then again is the only true Style of Growth the economists all chant about.
And in fact, the mistake is that of thinking that the rest of the world, whether JAPAN or South Korea or EU or Russia or Brazil or China can grow in such puny, tight, crowded places with an anti consumer mentality, with tight roads and small homes, with often huge Home Prices and such and rigid work markets, rigid mentalities, etc.
The mistake is that of trying to extend the American Model, the USA system as valid for the whole world and for everyone, pretending that all countries can "Develope" like the USA did when in fact it is and can be valid only specifically for the USA for so many structural reasons.
And this insistence on Worldwide growth, the Economies Must Grow, will never work unless all those countries become exactly like the USA, huge shopping centers, wide roads and highways all over the place, large homes, suburbs with lots of room and two car garages and front and backyards and places where you can put all the crap you buy and McMansions and diffused economies doing well all across the country, all mixed, not concentrated in only a few cities, etc. and flexible work environments, hire and fire and change and change states and workers feel they can easily change jobs, not like in the EU where if a factory closes an entire town protests and goes insane because they don't want to hire and fire and change and go across the country to another job where the prices of homes aren't fixed high forever limiting all possibilities especially for the new generation and such.