icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
9 Apr, 2013 13:52

Eurozone: Death by a thousand cuts

Eurozone: Death by a thousand cuts

The Eurozone crisis so far has resembled one of those cheesy fight scenes in a certain type of Hollywood movie. The hero is hugely outnumbered but each opponent patiently stands around looking menacing waiting to be ‘sorted out’ in turn.

Likewise Eurozone bailout candidates have lined up individually to face the Troika by rota and once ‘saved’ the ‘rescuers’ have sought to sing a little aria akin to the end of a Mozart opera noting how good has vanquished evil and all will be well in the world henceforth...Usually after an expensive meal in Brussels also paid for by EU taxpayers.

So, stage one of bailout mania was a process of Eurocrises in linear order, with nations bailed out to save their economies or indeed somebody else’s bankers...

The recent Cyprus process marked a watershed. It was a bail...well ‘bail-what’ one might ask? Cyprus marked a sort of hokey cokey dance of a ‘bail-’ process; altogether now: ‘you take one bail-in, you take one bail-out...you do the hokey cokey and turn around and that’s what bankruptcy’s all about!’ Cyprus endured a bizarre bailout farrago which damaged the trust implicit in previous EU statements of safety for savers.

The Eurocrisis has reached a new stage. Things have gone multilateral. First up are the existing bailouts. A progress report suggests all may not be quite on the road to recovery that has been previously reported by the EU. Greece festers in depression while Cyprus is a tinderbox of resentment to put it mildly. In Ireland, they want debt relief. Meanwhile in Portugal post court intervention, the government must immediately find an additional 1.3 billion Euros in cuts or face the consequences. Having already cut some 13 billion from the budget, this is, to put it mildly, a problem.

With Portugal on a precipice, the Mediterranean 500 lb gorilla nations do not look much better. In Spain the government have a massive majority but, like France, barely seem to grasp they are supposed to lead. As befits the land of Machiavelli, Italy has bypassed the leadership problem completely by failing to form a government at all.

At least we can sigh relief about stability when it comes to Germany as... No, hold on a moment. There is a mild-mannered Professor in Hamburg who is no populist but he is apparently very, very popular. Step forward Professor Bernd Lucke, an economics scholar who has created the “Alternative for Deutschland” Party which is not merely anti-Euro but coolly coherent in its well-considered plans to engineer Euro-euthanasia, end the bailout death spiral and reduce simmering north-south tensions. Is the party just a protest flash in the pan? With some polls indicating their support might be a giddy 25%, the simple metric is that they must hold above 5% by the autumn elections to enter the German Parliament. This milestone alone ought to sufficiently splinter the vote to unseat Mrs Merkel...

True, the Latvians do seem intent on upgrading their currency peg to Euro membership but quite how you square an additional 2.5 million Euro users with rejuvenating a 17 nation currency zone of 317 million people is a challenge  even with a dose of that crazy leverage which got us here in the first place...

The fact that there is barely space here to elucidate on the growing vote for the True Finns or various other Eurosceptic parties, never mind Slovakia, or the jump in Slovenian government bond rates in recent weeks, only emphasizes the multilateral problems facing the Eurozone. Until recently, EU ‘leaders’ were smugly confident they could alleviate each dropping shoe in turn and hence hold the Euro together. However the wounds are turning septic for several recipients of bailouts and increasingly the Eurozone looks to be held together with a mix of duct-tape and bandages. Elephant sized problems lurk in every room where the Euro is present. The Eurozone probably won’t collapse due to one massive calamitous event. Rather, the single currency, having been built on sand, is increasingly likely to be subject to that slow slicing terror of death by a thousand cuts...

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.