Only one option can be orderly. Germany and its satellite economies must withdraw from EMU [economic monetary union], leaving the Greco-Latin bloc with the residual euro and the institutions of monetary union. Let us call the legacy group the “Latin Union” in memory of its 19th Century forebear. The Latin euro would fall sharply against the yuan, yen, won, zloty, etc, as well as the new Teutonic Mark, allowing the Latin Union (with Ireland) to regain economic viability and largely honour existing euro debt contracts. The IMF should stand ready with flexible credit lines to tide Latins through the first weeks of this rupture.
Once the dust had settled, it would become clear that Italy, Spain, Ireland, and perhaps Portugal had regained enough competitiveness to hope to grow their way out of debt traps. Fear of domino defaults would recede.
The alternative is to impose austerity and debt deflation without offsetting relief – à la grecque – on a string a countries until their polities shatter, and capital flight sets off disorderly EMU exit by the weaker states, with a concomitant chain of defaults reaching Italy, the world’s third biggest debtor. As the bond jitters of the last two weeks have shown, we are already uncomfortably close to this.