Germany is a member of a currency union over which it has no monetary authority. So no one can accuse the country of ‘manipulating’ its currency. Yet, Germany is displaying huge current account surpluses that are illustrative of a dangerous imbalance which when corrected will cause violent disruptions to trade and lead to populist and autarkic political rhetoric. This is what awaits us when the global economy slows further.
Success of the German-inspired solution for the latest Greek crisis is far from assured. If it fails, the Eurozone may be changed forever. This column argues that the failure would lead to an outcome that has been favoured for decades by Germany’s Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble. Perhaps the package the Eurozone agreed is just a backdoor way of getting to the ‘variable geometry’ and monetary unification for the core that the Maastricht criteria had failed to achieve.
At this point, default within the eurozone is the best case scenario for Greece. Grexit is still a distinct possibility. All potential best case scenarios are out the window. Below is my assessment on how we got here.
Yanis Varoufakis: Greece, Germany and the Eurozone – Keynote at the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung, Berlin, 8 June 2015
This post is re-posted from Yanis Varoufakis’ blog with his permission. CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO Thank you for inviting me. Thank you for being here. Thank you for the warm welcome. Above all thank you for the opportunity to build bridges, to pave common ground, to bring harmony in the face of blatant attempts to sow the seeds of […]
The Absolute Return Letter, June 2015 By Niels Jensen To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects.” Margaret Thatcher Investment heavyweights challenge the consensus On a regular basis I challenge the consensus. It is part of my […]
When the Greek bailout extension deal got done, I mentioned that in the press conference that followed, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble made it clear he was looking to ‘sell’ the deal to the German parliament. And while he has been successful in doing so, recent evidence suggests that indeed he did have to work to make the deal viable. For me, this highlights the political constraints we are working under and reinforces my view that writedowns are not politically viable in Germany.
In the last post at Credit Writedowns Pro on the jobs number, I promised to talk about currency issues but I didn’t! Here are two issues then: the increasing current account surplus in Germany and the strong dollar’s effect on China. On Germany, it’s notable that merchandise trade as a share of GDP in Germany was 70.8% for the years […]
Yesterday, Greece received an agreement in principal to extend its existing bailout program for another four months from the institutions administering that program. I believe this deal is a good basis for further work down the line. But Greece has a lot of work ahead of it, if it is to move to a new program. Moreover, Syriza will have to sell this deal as a bridge to the sustainable economic outcome it sold to its electorate in the January elections. At the same time, the Germans and the Finns at a minimum will have to sell this deal to their parliaments for it to work. Some thoughts below
I am going to leave my market-based analysis and enter the murky waters of the political economy. I don’t like the uncertainty of the political economy, given how it is based on the quixotic and unpredictable actions of individuals. But the political economy is important in crisis situations and one cannot analyze an outcome properly without taking the politics into consideration. I was a diplomat at one point in time and hope that experience will aid me here. I have been good at understanding some of the political constraints in Europe so far and intend to discuss them here.
The euro crisis is a crisis of Europe, not of European countries. It is not a conflict between Germany and Spain (and I use these two countries to represent every European country on one side or the other of the boom) about who should be deemed irresponsible, and so should absorb the enormous costs of nearly a decade of mismanagement. There was plenty of irresponsible behavior in every country, and it is absurd to think that if German and Spanish banks were pouring nearly unlimited amounts of money into countries at extremely low or even negative real interest rates, especially once these initial inflows had set off stock market and real estate booms, that there was any chance that these countries would not respond in the way every country in history, including Germany in the 1870s and in the 1920s, had responded under similar conditions.
This is an abbreviated version of a post first published at Credit Writedowns Pro on 15 Oct. The Germans got into the eurozone out of a desire to increase European integration and to strengthen Europe as an economic area that rivalled the United States. Yet, now we are in a period where the Germans are being blamed for everything that’s […]
It’s currently very trendy in Italy to blame Angela Merkel, Mario Monti, and austerity measures for the current recession. This column argues that while the severity of the downturn is clearly a cyclical phenomenon, the inability of the country to grow out of it is the legacy of more than a decade of a lack of reforms in credit, product and labour markets. This lack of reform has suffocated innovation and productivity growth, resulting in wage dynamics that are completely decoupled from labour productivity and demand conditions.