Europe Still Doesn't Get It

Even as sell-offs speed up, governments keep coddling monopolies

On paper, it looks as if governments in Continental Europe are doing the right thing. With much fanfare, they are selling off their crown jewels, from state-owned phone companies to national airlines. Over the next five years, Europeans will privatize as much as $300 billion worth of assets, 70% more than the total during the last decade. The theory is that subjecting these unwieldy state monopolies to free-market forces will make them more efficient and give a much-needed shot in the arm to Europe's economic growth and global competitiveness.

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