Thursday, March 12, 2015

Who Blinks First: Greece or Germany?

Some of my most widely read posts, both by numbers and by geographical dispersion, relate to the Euro and the Grexit, dating back to 2012.  This particular one, "Revisiting the Euro and the Grexit," hit it all right on the head.

Today, even the Guardian seems to waking up out of a fog when it writes,
"A month ago, such an outcome(economic collapse or exit) to the Greek crisis looked highly improbable. It now appears far less unlikely, which is one reason why the euro has been under such pressure on the foreign exchanges. At some point, the 35% depreciation of the single currency against the dollar is going to lead to strong exports and a much-needed growth boost."
Bailing out Greece, or Germany blinking, puts another nail in the European experiment.  The EU violated its own rules when it admitted Greece (and others) into the currency union, and a bailout (or other euphemism) is the ultimate practical repudiation of both economic principles and rules.

The multi-year charade that has brought us to this point can't continue by just accepting more austerity: for the economic well being of the people and for the political self interest of its politicians, Greece needs to undertake fundamental structural reforms in taxation, labor market and public pension reforms.  Without some outside representation by the EU machinery in providing technical assistance or monitoring, it's hard to see how blank checks can be written.

If the bitter pill were accepted, how could the current Greek government, elected on a sham platform, continue to hold the confidence of the electorate?

Taking the euro down to stimulate exports helps Germany much more than it will help Greece in the short-term, without labor market and regulatory reform in, for example, Greek ports and shipping.

All eyes may turn to Mario Draghi, but his tune is already tired and won't be enough.

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