We in Europe are certainly living in interesting times.
PDF Document here Euro Crisis Or Death By A Thousand Cuts
Labour unrest, collapsing employment, bankrupt public coffers, riots and sovereign debt default.
This all might seem unexpected however in 1995 a former European Union economist Bernard Connolly foretold it all in his classic book “The Rotten Heart of Europe.” Connolly was hounded out of his elite job for telling the truth about the lies and obfuscation about the ERM (Exchange Rate Mechanism), the forerunner of the Euro. He knew that his instincts and training as a professional economist were telling him that the Euro would be a disaster for Nation States yet he was not allowed to articulate his genuine concerns.“As we shall see, in France the long arm of the authoritarian state has pressurized dissident economists and bankers, deployed financial information programmes on international TV channels, threatened securities houses with loss of business if they questioned the official economic line, and shamelessly used state-owned and even private-sector banks, in complete contradiction with their shareholder’s interests and Community law, to support official policy. ……….
The economic profession in Europe organized literally hundreds of conferences, seminars and colloquia to which only conformist speakers were invited; and the Commission’s “research” programmes financed large numbers of economic studies to provide the right results from known believers.”Connolly goes to state the essence of his book:
“My central thesis is that the ERM and the EMU (European Monetary Union, the mechanism with ultimately brought the Euro into technical existence) are not only inefficient but also undemocratic: a danger not only to our wealth but to our freedom and ultimately, our peace.”
As the current crisis unfolds we are just beginning to see the flaws in the Euro system that Connolly foresaw. Under the regime yes we have stable exchange rates between the Euro countries but there is no harmony between the disparate economies that make up Euroland. For example when it comes t0 borrowing “sovereign debt” each country is on its own. This last week Greece had to pay 18% on two year money whereas Germany had to pay only 3% approx. Where Greece has gone Spain, Portugal and Ireland are soon to follow. The technical makeup of the Euro is being brought into the glare of the light of day and business functionaries do not like the weaknesses they see. The idea that the Euro has a “central” bank has thus been exposed as a myth. If the Euro actually had a real central bank the sovereign nations of the European Super State would be able to borrow under its aegis, they cannot.
This means the Euro is not a “currency” as such but in actual fact is an exchange rate mechanism only.
Thus it is a political entity not an economic one. The fact that Germany “cannot assist” Greece in these crises while the Euro burns indicates again that politics and power rules the day not bread and butter and families and jobs. The behavior of Germany is actually frightening in light of the fact that it is the major beneficiary of this artificial exchange mechanism. The Euro is allowing cheap German goods flood.
Europe and explains why it has 200-300 billion Euros of trade surpluses with its economic partners.In a survey last week over 80% of Greeks want to exit the Euro but this voice is not being reported in much the same fashion that Connolly’s concerns were silenced by elite bankers and politicos. However, in 1995 the world was less connected when the Euro mechanism was being set up. Today we have hedge funds connected through Cray computers ready to “play” the markets. As soon as traders realize the Euro is a one way bet they will opt destroy the exchange mechanism because of its exposed failings.
The Emperor has been seen to have no cloths. As sure as night follows day they are going to reap their reward, the same way George Soros reaped his one billion paycheck on the 16th. September 1992 (“Black Friday”) when the bank of England lost 3.4 billion Sterling in one single day defending a flawed exchange link to Euroland. It is my suspicion that Germany sees this as a very real scenario and does not desire to waste its hard won foreign reserves on a “Norman Lamont” (The “Black Friday” chancellor of the British exchequer) type endgame.
All of this would be fascinating if it were purely an academic issue, unfortunately it is not. In Ireland, for example, the country is going through a horrendous economic downturn, one which is being exacerbated by this “currency” crisis. The problem is we now know the Euro is not a real currency and confidence is shot. The end result is lost jobs, non-existent credit, frozen business cash flows, unemployment and emigration. In other words the issues are very, very real. And I am sure it is the same in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy.
I do hope that the powers that be put their heads together to solve this developing disaster. Bernard Connolly wrote about it 35 years ago so they have had a lot of time to prepare. Let’s hope wisdom prevails and that the lessons Argentina learnt nearly a decade ago can be used. In that crisis, when she had to break the link to the Dollar (a la our Euro) she allowed devaluation but inspiringly its leaders also insisted the devaluation of all Dollar loans. In doing so the elite realized that they had only two options.
Social catastrophe or neutered bankers. They took on the bankers and substantially diminished the debt. Thus they saved their nation.
Accordingly, the so called “PIIGS” countries; Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain, should form a league based on national economic restructure. This league should form a common secretariat with the purpose of negotiating an exit from the Euro and allowing their currencies to “float” once more. This will immediately allow their economies to become competitive again without widespread deflation. Most importantly all Euro loans must be devalued to a new negotiated exchange conversion, as per the Argentinean model. This action will be greatly resisted by Euro bankers. This is why no one European nation could go this route alone. But together in league they have a chance.
I hope Irish leaders realize the difficulty we are in and have the intelligence and wisdom to formulate the type of solution mentioned. If such leadership was shown by Ireland perhaps the other heads in Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain would have the courage to join with their fellow European brothers and sisters and save their nations from certain financial destruction. Yes we truly are living in interesting times.
source thanks to chris at www.wealthbuilder.ie
Reference: “The Rotten Heart of Europe”
Faber & Faber, London, 1995.