(This article first appeared on TheAtlantic.com, where Ben Heineman wries frequently.)
Just after the New Year, President Obama will have to decide whether to take a dramatic, high-stakes gamble on a very unsexy topic: a U.S.-E.U. free trade agreement. It will be one of the key high-risk, high-reward choices of his second term.
By removing all barriers on goods and by facilitating fairer and more transparent competition in services, investment, and public procurement, such an agreement could stimulate growth and increase jobs in the world’s two largest economies, which together comprise more than 50 percent of the world’s GDP.
Such economic benefits could occur without any additional government expenditure. An agreement could provide a needed, long-lasting jolt to the ailing economies on both sides of the Atlantic. It could avoid the dilemmas posed by the current policy choice between austerity at a time of anemic growth and stimulus at a time of fiscal disarray. Read more