What If I Am Wrong About Europe?
I have long stated the eurozone will breakup. Historically speaking, no currency union has ever survived in the absence of a political union.
Moreover, in It's Just Impossible I noted
- The Bundesbank said there should be no banking union until there is a fiscal union.
- Angela Merkel said that there should be no fiscal union until there is political union.
- François Hollande said that there should be no political union until there is a banking union.
- The German supreme court will not allow a political union nor a fiscal union, nor a banking union without a German referendum.
Mathematically speaking, I also fail to see how the eurozone can stay intact.
Specifically, please consider point number nine of Michael Pettis: Long-Term Outlook for China, Europe, and the World; 12 Global Predictions
9. Disruptive European Politics
European politics will become much more difficult and disruptive. The historical precedents are clear. During a debt crisis the political system becomes fragmented and contentious. If the major parties don’t become radicalized, smaller radical parties will take away their votes.
Remember that the process of adjustment is a political one. We all know someone has to pay for the massive adjustment countries like Spain must make. The only interesting question is about who will be forced to take the brunt of the payment – workers in the form of unemployment, the middle classes in the form of confiscated savings, small businesses in the form of taxes, large businesses in the form of taxes and nationalization, foreigners, or creditors.
Deciding who pays is a political process, and because the stakes are so high it will be a very bitter process. This means, among other things, that politics will degenerate quickly, and of course if Europe doesn’t arrive at fiscal union in the next year or two, it probably never will. This conclusion is also the reason for my next prediction.
That prediction was made by Michael Pettis, and I am in complete agreement.
But what if I am wrong?
Can Politics Triumph Over Math and History?
What if the eurozone in spite of all obstacles stays intact? Daniel Hannan is a writer and journalist, and Conservative MEP for South East England since 1999 offers an interesting viewpoint for The Telegraph in Spain teeters on the brink
All of a sudden, the talk is of the breakdown, not just of the single currency, but of the parliamentary system on which it rests. Commentators across Europe fret that Spain, which emerged from dictatorship less than 40 years ago, might give up on multi-party politics.
Every round of economic figures is worse than the last. The deficit is massively larger than forecast. A bailout of unprecedented size is becoming inevitable, even as the prime minister gives his countrymen a ‘one hundred per cent assurance’ that he won’t apply for one. (He said much the same thing a few days before applying for the last one.)
Hundreds of thousands of people are protesting, some violently. ....
The real tragedy of the euro is not that it will come crashing down upon the financial system, as Smaug upon Esgaroth, splintering it to sparks and gledes. The tragedy, rather, is that the monetary union will limp on, condemning hundreds of millions to gradual immiseration.
I am still trying, as gently as I can, to suggest that there is an alternative to the euro-imposed bailout racket. I did so again in our most recent parliamentary session, as you can hear in the clip above.
The trouble is that, while Spaniards recognise the folly of imposing cuts while at the same time bailing out banks, they shy away from the logical conclusion: that leaving the euro is now the least bad option.
The real threat to Spanish democracy is not internal but external; not a pronunciamiento but a Brussels-imposed civilian junta, as happened in Italy. Mario Monti, the EU’s proconsul in Rome, indicated yesterday that he ‘might seek a second term’. Oddly, I don’t remember him seeking the first.
The sad reality is Spain and Italy may linger on just as Greece did, destroying their countries in the process.
Consider once again what I said on September 26, in Firebombs, Teargas, Riots Near Greek Parliament; 57% Say Greece Should Abandon Pledges Made to Troika
Sentiment Has Turned
Sentiment in Greece has turned, and likely turned for good. 57% of Greeks have had enough of austerity to the point they would rather default.
Turn back the hands of time a bit and think how this might have played out if Greece simply left the euro and defaulted three years ago as it should have. Tourism would likely have increased and if Greece had implemented true structural reforms rather than tax hikes, its economy would be stable or recovering now.
Instead, the country is in ruins, tourism is down, and in an on-again-off-again fashion, absolute chaos breaks out.
Another round of austerity and tax hikes can only make things worse at this point, and the people know it. This will pressure political parties to not go along with Samaras.
If another round of elections were held today, there is no way Samaras would win. Instead, the radical left, and radical right (both of which want to exit the euro), would be fighting over the pieces.
The nannycrats in Brussels and Chancellor Merkel are to blame for this sad state of affairs.
Finally, please note that the big fear of the nannycrats and Merkel is not that Greece leaves the euro per se, but rather Greece leaves the euro and the Greek economy starts to recover.
Well, here's the deal and it is something I said years ago: the sooner Greece abandons the euro, tells the Troika to go to hell, and defaults, the better off it will be
Same Track, Wrong Track
Spain, Greece, Portugal, and Italy are all on the same track and the wrong track. All need work rule reform and lower taxes. Instead, the countries have been short on productivity improvement, short on pension reform, short on work rule reform, and long on tax hikes.
It is no wonder their economies are imploding. It is no wonder protests are getting louder. Yet the political class, beholden to the banks and the IMF have taken the wrong track.
In the end, I highly doubt I will be wrong.
In the meantime, however, Telegraph writer Daniel Hannan appears to be correct in his assessment the "the tragedy is that the monetary union will limp on, condemning hundreds of millions to gradual immiseration."
Source: Global Ecomic Analysis