Monday, November 28, 2011

Saving the Euro

Greece and Italy have been handed over to technocrats, tasked with taking the difficult steps that politicians find impossible. Democracy, clearly, is incompatible with austerity. Make people suffer (most often for the sins of economic elites,) and they vote you out of office. It's as simple as that.

In Spain, the Socialists have been replaced by the center-right Partido Popular — not because Spaniards have suddenly become more conservative, mind you, but because the Socialists were presiding over the austerities forced on Spain by other Eurozone countries (mostly Germany.) Since the Popular Party will be obliged to continue the same unpopular policies the Socialists began, we can expect it to get a lot less popular in short order. Watch out, amigos, here comes another technocrat.

As for mes amis en France, your turn will come as well. Sarkozy is not long for power, and nobody in French politics will want to take responsibility for austerity measures. Yet another European technocracy would not be a surprise.

The source of all the unpopular austerity is Germany. The eternally anal-retentive Germans just can't stand it that their neighbors to the south were inclined to spend more than they earned. Their disapproval goes beyond the economic: it is moral disapproval. Since the southerners were so profligate and generally naughty, Germans feel, they don't deserve to be bailed out. Most Germans probably believe they ought to be birched on their bottoms.

As I see it, the most straightforward way to save the Euro is for Germany to drop out and return to the deutschmark. Maybe they can form a monetary union with the Netherlands, Europe's other economically responsible country. After that, the rest of the Eurozone can inflate its way out of debt.

Word is that there are some financial whiz kids in Germany quietly thinking through this solution. It's extreme, but if the German ants won't save their grasshopper neighbors, it may be the only remaining possibility.

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