Western Europe: The Medieval Capital Markets

The West's economies are kept rolling along by money from millions of individual investors, and in the postwar years most of it has come from the U.S.—a big factor in the drain of gold from American coffers. Europe, despite its boom, has failed to generate enough investment capital to meet even its own needs, let alone to play its long-overdue role in world financing.

U.S. Treasury officials have urged European governments for months to enact reforms that would make it easier to raise capital in their financial centers, but genuine progress has been negligible. Last week Washington finally took an...

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