European Central Bank head Mario Draghi started things off with a sharp call for pro-business reforms by governments.
Such reforms "are about unleashing an untapped potential for substantially higher output, employment and welfare," Draghi said in his opening remarks.Draghi wasn't the only one worried about Europe's sclerosis;
"There is no way the central bank all on its own can solve all of Europe's problems, and there has been a tendency for policy makers to sit back and let the ECB do it all, and that is both unreasonable and unconscionable" said Dennis J. Snower, president of the Kiel Institute of the World Economy in Germany.
Snower advocates active measures to help people get back into work, such as retraining workers whose skills don't fit employer needs, or subsidies to companies that take on the long-term unemployed. "Find the disadvantaged people and give them maximal incentives to get into the labor force, and give employers maximal incentives to hire them," he told The Associated Press on the conference sidelines.Naturally that didn't sit well with the Euroway or the highway types;
Paul De Grauwe from the London School of Economics — a former member of the Belgian parliament — said the central bank put its legitimacy at risk.
He said restrictions on layoffs existed "because people want them. ... And in democracies, people will obtain protection from their governments."
"And when a central bank then comes out and says we should do structural reforms, it really says we should break down this system of protections. And in doing so the central bank sets itself outside the democratic process.
"The danger is that people will reject such a central bank."Or the central bank will reject them. As may be dawning on Greece.