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More Fodder for the Yank-Haters

The spreading U.S. credit crisis is turning up the heat on Europe's simmering anti-Americanism

Dietmar Bartsch doesn't consider himself anti-American. A basketball fan, the 49-year-old from the East German city of Stralsund just returned from New Orleans, where he caught the NBA All-Star Game. "The people were really friendly," he enthuses. But Bartsch's feelings about the U.S. aren't uniformly warm and fuzzy, and he finds Wall Street's shenanigans especially galling. The big subprime losses at banks "confirm a broad feeling that something's not right," says Bartsch, general secretary of Germany's Left Party, which rode discontent with the global economic order to unexpected success in state elections this winter. "The elites are making decisions that aren't tolerable."

As credit woes endanger the world economy, they're giving Europeans another reason to resent U.S. influence. Anti-Americanism was already simmering because of the Iraq war, dislike for President George W. Bush, and mistrust of rampaging buyout firms. Now, Europe's pundits and politicians are feeding public perceptions that ordinary folks will be left paying the bill for the financial missteps of big banks. "This crisis shows why the market must be regulated. Left to itself, it often produces the worst," says Jean Quatremer, the Brussels correspondent for French daily Libération.