Magazine August 13, 2018, Issue

A March of Folly

European Union flags outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium (Yves Herman/Reuters)
EuroTragedy: A Drama in Nine Acts, by Ashoka Mody (Oxford University Press, 672 pages, $34.95)

Near the beginning of his convincing, readable, and satisfactorily acid account of the rise and who-knows-what-now of the euro, Ashoka Mody cites basic monetary theory and grumbles that the European Union’s leaders “should have been aware that a single currency could not [by itself] deliver . . . prosperity.”

The EU owes its existence to the notion that Europe should avoid repeating the catastrophes of its 20th-century past. Yet by imposing a single currency on a large number of very different countries, it was blending elements of two lesser disasters — fixed exchange rates and central planning — into a combination

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