‘Betting the House to Save the Garage’

by Andrew Stuttaford

With the European vacation season coming to an end, so is the (relative) calm surrounding the euro. The never-cheery Nouriel Roubini weighs in:

Just consider what must be overcome: economic divergence and deepening recessions; irreversible balkanization of the banking system and financial markets; unsustainable debt burdens for public and private agents; daunting growth and balance-sheet costs in countries that pursue internal devaluation and deflation to restore competitiveness; asymmetrical adjustment, with moral-hazard risks in the core and insufficient financing in the periphery fueling incompatible political dynamics; fickle and impatient markets and investors; austerity fatigue in the periphery and bailout fatigue in the core; the absence of conditions for an optimal currency area; and serious difficulties in achieving full fiscal, banking, economic, and political union…

Not least the fact that that’s not what the peoples trapped within the euro zone actually want.

Roubini continues:

Of course, a breakup now would be very costly, requiring an international debt conference to restructure the periphery’s debts and the core’s claims. But breaking up earlier could allow the survival of the single market and of the EU. A futile attempt to avoid a breakup for a year or two – after wasting trillions of euros in additional official financing by the core – would mean a disorderly end, including the destruction of the single market, owing to the introduction of protectionist policies on a massive scale. So, if a breakup is unavoidable, delaying it implies much higher costs.

But politics in the eurozone does not permit consideration of an early breakup. Germany and the ECB are relying on large-scale liquidity to buy time to allow the adjustments necessary to restore growth and debt sustainability. And, despite the huge risk implied if a breakup eventually occurs, this remains the strategy to which most of the players in the eurozone are committed. Only time will tell whether betting the house to save the garage was the right move.

Meanwhile, Open Europe tweets:

75% of Germans are opposed to more concessions to Greece, only 15% in favour, 69% reject third Greek bailout (New Emnid poll for N24) (DPA)

Tick tock.