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On crisis, Europe to US: 'I told you so'

Europeans blame economic mess on US 'anything goes' capitalism as Iceland faces a full meltdown.

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Cooperation? Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (l.) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a news conference Monday in Berlin.

Miguel Villagran/AP

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The economic image of the United States as a high-rolling tycoon at a Vegas casino, willing to gamble and reap rewards, has always stood in stark contrast to that of the European bean counter.

Now here in Europe, long a bastion of distrust toward unfettered capitalism, there's a question running underneath the financial crisis: Is the era of "anything goes" free markets over?

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is refuting the infallibility of free markets. Italian Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti is touting his best-selling book, a treatise against globalization. His German counterpart, Peer Steinbr├╝ck, points a sharp finger of blame at the United States, telling parliament recently that it is "the source" and "the focus" of the crisis.

"Some in Europe see the financial crisis as a win on points for the Continental financial system against the Anglo-American one," conservative commentator Friedhelm Hengsbach recently wrote in the S├╝ddeutsche Zeitung, a German daily.

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