Vol. 54, No. 1

In this edition

The Ripon Forum examines America’s economic rebound & why it’s a story every Republican should tell.

Winning with Women

Republican recruitment is breaking records in 2020, because more GOP women are stepping forward and saying, “I’m in.”

The Lessons of Brexit & Possible Parallels in the U.S.

With the United Kingdom set to leave the European Union, a look at how political turmoil in that country has mirrored similar turmoil in the United States, and how it may impact America’s election this year.

Europe’s Dark Cloud Over the World Economy

With Europe’s economy being about the same size as America’s, another European economic slowdown would have a major effect globally.


Over the past three years, the GOP has developed a strategy that has produced not only a thriving economy, but a winning narrative that voters need to hear about this fall.

GOP Voters are Sticking with Trump, but Centrist Voters are the Key

A View from Dubuque: Third in a Series

People Like the President’s Policies, but His Personality Gives Them Pause

A View from Macomb County: Third in a Series

The Economy has Prospered Under Trump, but the Local GOP has Struggled

A View from Northampton County: Third in a Series

To Area Voters, Trump is Standing Up to the Beltway Elite

A View from Trumbull County: Third in a Series

Some Gains for the Democrats, but the Strong Economy Makes November Too Close to Call

A View from Kenosha County: Third in a Series

The Issues May Change and the Map May Evolve, but America’s Two-Party System Endures

Veteran political observer Michael Barone discusses his recent book about the Republican and Democratic Parties and how their influence has risen and fallen over the years.

Ripon Profile of John Katko

John Katko discusses his bipartisan record in Congress and what he’s doing to address problems facing his home state.

Europe’s Dark Cloud Over the World Economy

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, troubles have been coming to the European economy not as single spies but in battalions. Worse yet, these troubles have come at a time that the European Central Bank is running out of monetary policy ammunition and at a time that the German government remains wedded to a balanced budget policy.

All of this does not bode well for either the European or the global economies in the year immediately ahead.

As it entered 2020, a striking feature of the European economy was that all four of its largest economies — Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom — were beset by meaningful economic or political difficulties. As a result of these difficulties, in the last quarter of 2019, the overall European economy expanded by barely 0.1 percent, with France and Italy registering negative growth rates.

Unfortunately, with the fallout from the coronavirus epidemic about to hit the global economy, there is not much reason to believe that the economic or political difficulties besetting each of Europe’s four main economies will clear up anytime soon.

In the last quarter of 2019 the overall European economy expanded by barely 0.1 percent, with France and Italy registering negative growth rates.

Indeed, the heavily export-oriented German economy is all too likely to continue to be among those world economies most adversely affected by a slowing Chinese economy. With the coronavirus very likely to reduce Chinese economic growth from 6 percent in 2019 to around 4 percent in the first half of 2020, Germany’s economy is bound to take a further meaningful hit. At the same time, the Trump administration’s continued threat to impose a 25 percent tariff on European automobiles is likely to continue weighing heavily on Germany’s automobile sector.

Over the past year, France’s economic performance has been weighed down by President Emmanuel Macron’s waning political fortune and by widespread social unrest triggered by his unpopular economic reform agenda. With Macron showing no sign of backing down on his deeply unpopular pension reform initiative, there would seem to be little reason to expect an early turnaround in the French economy.

Since the June 2016 referendum, Brexit has not been kind to the U.K. economy. As investors fretted about the possibility that the U.K. could crash out of Europe without an economic deal, the U.K.’s economic performance lagged well behind that of its G-7 peers. By the end of 2019, the U.K. was on the verge of an economic recession.

While the U.K. did leave Europe on January 31, it still has to negotiate a permanent economic relationship with the European Union during the one-year transition period that ends in December 2020. Judging by Boris Johnson’s hardline Brexit position and by his insistence that the U.K. will not seek an extension in the negotiation period, investors are bound to continue worrying about the U.K. crashing out of the European Union at the end of the year.

With Europe’s economy being approximately the same size as that of the United States, another European economic slowdown would have a major effect on the global economy.

Most troubling of all is Italy’s poor economic outlook. Italy has the dubious distinction of having a lower per capita income today than it did some 20 years ago. It also has Europe’s second highest public debt to GDP ratio after Greece and a relatively unstable government. This makes its economy particularly exposed to any further slowing in the European and Chinese economies. With the Italian economy yet once again contracting toward the end of last year, one cannot rule out a recurrence of the Italian sovereign debt crisis in 2020.

European policymakers have compounded earlier European economic downturns by the pursuit of a pro-cyclical fiscal policy. With the German government insisting on maintaining a balance budget and with the European commission insisting that countries comply with the Eurozone’s budget deficit limits, there is little reason to think that European policymakers will use budget policy to counter the next European economic downturn.

The likely lack of a fiscal policy response will again put the full burden of supporting an ailing European economy on the European Central Bank. However, with interest rates already in negative territory, the ECB is bound to be very much less effective in jump starting the European economy than it was during the last Eurozone sovereign debt crisis.

With Europe’s economy being approximately the same size as that of the United States, another European economic slowdown would have a major effect on the global economy. U.S. economic policymakers would ignore the current risks to the European economy at their peril.

Desmond Lachman is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He was formerly a deputy director in the International Monetary Fund’s Policy Development and Review Department and the chief emerging market economic strategist at Salomon Smith Barney. This column was originally published by InsideSources.com