Capital and Chutzpah: Why US has more than Europe

What is the difference between the U.S. way of doing business and the European way? The anecdotal answer is all too often that U.S. companies have more innovation, chutzpah and adaptability.

Think of the U.S. corporate image: It is very often based around a "can-do" attitude whereas in Europe, at best, there's an all-too-often tag of solid but dull dependability.

But let's leave the stereotypes for now and consider one of the real and tangible differences between companies in Europe and their U.S. counterparts – capital.

More specifically, the ability of European companies to access capital has been hamstrung for years by the fact that U.S. firms, both large and small, have much more varied access to capital than beleaguered peers in Europe.

Read MoreWhich European sector has the most swagger?

Whereas U.S. companies have been able to negotiate their way through first recession -- and then anemic growth -- with access to sophisticated and deep capital markets, the same cannot be said of companies on this side of the pond who have had to rely on banks for their credit.

John Taggart | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The problem is that the European banking sector has been in contraction and under huge regulatory pressure and has drip-fed liquidity to the private sector engines of European growth.

Yes, big blue-chips in London, especially, and the continent have had equality in the funding markets but for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) the banks have been the only line of credit.

Read MoreGlobal Economy: Europe's crisis of confidence

In truth, though, perhaps the major difference between the two geographic regions is down to money and the Americans' ability to access it so much more easily than companies on this side of the pond.

But is that all about to change with the playing field becoming much more level?

That's the hope at least as the Capital Markets Union (CMU) "Action Plan" was unveiled a couple of weeks ago with the specific aim of shaking up the way companies in Europe can access capital and, hopefully, boost much needed economic growth and essentially jobs in the EU, which still has low growth of just over 1 percent and a jobless rate of around 11 percent.

We've had grandiose action plans before of course, who can forget the Lisbon agenda (an action and development plan devised in 2000)? But this time, Jonathan Hill, the British-born European Union (EU) Financial Services Commissioner, is trying to break down the weighty and complicated CMU project into a simple mandate – to get more funding to flow from savers to businesses.

It sounds simple enough but is it achievable?

Unlocking savings is at the basis of this and, as Hill pointed out, how can it be that Europe has an economy which is second in size only to that of the U.S.'s and yet our equity markets are half the size? How can it be that U.S. SMEs get five times as much funding from the capital markets as they do in the EU?

When put like that it is no wonder more U.S. companies having been weathering the storm more smoothly than those in Europe.

So the CMU plan is at the heart of the Commission's efforts to get Europe back on track. More specifically, it is tasking itself with finding ways of unlocking huge sources of funding, such as the 10 trillion euros ($11.3 trillion) in the insurance sector to boost growth.

In addition, a reinvigorated securitization program, simpler listing rules for smaller companies and venture capital rule changes are also being touted.

Perhaps the most ironic of the changes that Hill is looking to bring about will be an assault on "cumulative regulations" across financial services – that's "red tape" to you and me. Now this would be astounding if the European Commission itself, so often the perpetrator of the greatest red tape crimes, were to start scything through the rule books. (You, like I, will believe it when you see it, eh?)

In short, if European companies are ever able to go toe-to-toe with their U.S. and global peers they need more and cheaper money, and more reliable money at that.

Only last week questions were raised about two of Europe's largest financial institutions, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse, and whether they need to be raising more capital to comfortably beat regulatory benchmarks. European banks still have capital issues of their own and cannot be expected to provide the much needed corporate liquidity with this as a backdrop.

In order to compete new capital markets rules, and maybe less capital market rules, are crucial. Perhaps when and if these bring real change, we can then stand up and judge whether U.S. companies really do have more innovation, chutzpah and innovation or whether they are just better at shouting louder about it.

Steve Sedgwick, Anchor, Squawk Box Europe

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