You live in both the U.S. and Europe. How do you see each dealing with economic crisis?
In the U.S., even though there is a recession and people are very disillusioned about politics, there is an underlying optimism. Europeans are by nature pessimistic: they moan all the time. So there is this constant complaining about politicians, about the economy. And there is very little action.
The U.S. attitude is better?
It will help the U.S. and is helping the U.S. Americans will take any job, and Europeans will not take any job. Europe has impediments, of course. Somebody in Alabama can get in a car and drive all the way to North Dakota and get a job in the fracking industry, which is booming. That is not within the European nature. Even if someone could do it, we have the barrier of language.
How deep is the euro crisis?
Europe is the banker of the world: 50% of the total balance sheet of the [global] banking system is held by European banks. It's very scary that European countries cannot control what is happening to the currency that is used primarily by these banks. These banks can become insolvent.
Your book Maonomics is about China. What lesson can the euro zone learn from China?
China's capi-communism is the result of Deng Xiaoping's analysis of the shortcoming of the communist system and the advantages of reform using the instruments of capitalism. I don't see any European leader today doing that.
If the Chinese ran Europe?
Personally, I think they would consider a voluntary default of the peripheral area of the euro, and they would do it through consensus. They would create two euros, one stronger than the other. And they would reform the European Union according to the needs of the economy. But none of this will take place in Europe.
Is the idea of Europe all that is holding Europe together?
The idea of Europe does not exist. The Europeans don't like each other. You talk to the Finns about the Greeks and the Italians, and they'll tell you that the Greeks don't work and the Italians are all mafiosi. You go to the Italians and you talk about Finland, and they'll say the Finns can't cook a decent meal.
So what is it that keeps the E.U. a union?
What is holding us together is the debt. The Italians are petrified that the Europeans will say, We'll let you go. The only reason we are able to borrow money is because we're under the umbrella of Europe.
Is there anything else Europeans can do?
There is a proposal to create trusts that will buy the common goods of a country in crisis. I could buy a share of the Parthenon because I don't want it to be sold to the Chinese, for example. Because Europe is so rich in history and its heritage so vast, let us citizens hold it in trust and with this money save Europe from the euro crisis. I think that is potentially a very good idea. At least it is different.
Can Europe still foster economic growth?
Absolutely not. We are in a postcapitalist society. Capitalism is a system that works if you are modernizing, industrializing, as in China and Brazil. You need a new system. In order to do that, you need a leadership that is willing to reinvent the wheel.
Your new book, 10 Years That Shook the World, is geared toward young people. What do you want them to see?
That terrorism was not the most important event: 2001 was the introduction of the iPod; [in 2010] came the iPad. It is the birth of this virtual life. Our lives will never be the same because of smart phones, not because Osama bin Laden knocked down the towers.