The euro has completely broken down as a workable system and faces collapse
with “incalculable economic losses and human suffering” unless there is a
drastic change of course, according to a group of leading economists.
Europe is “sleepwalking towards disaster”, according to the 17 experts, who
warned that over the past few weeks “the situation in the debtor countries
has deteriorated dramatically”.
“The sense of a neverending crisis, with one domino falling after another,
must be reversed. The last domino, Spain,
is days away from a liquidity crisis,” said the economists. They include two
members of Germany’s Council of Economic Experts and leading euro
specialists at the London of School of Economics, all euro supporters.
“This dramatic situation is the result of a eurozone system which, as
currently constructed, is thoroughly broken. The cause is a systemic
failure. It is the responsibility of all European nations that were parties
to its flawed design, construction and implementation to contribute to a
solution. Absent this collective response, the euro will disintegrate,” they
added in a co-signed report for the Institute for New Economic Thinking.
The warning came as contagion
from Spain pushed Italy’s borrowing costs to danger levels, with
two-year yields rocketing 40 basis points to more than 5pc. The Milan bourse
tumbled 3pc, led by bank shares. Italian equities have been in freefall
since it became clear two weeks ago that the EU’s June summit deal had
failed to break the nexus between crippled banks and sovereign states.
The crisis is starting to ricochet back into Germany, where the PMI
manufacturing index for July fell to its lowest since mid-2009. Doubts are
emerging about the creditworthiness of the German state itself.
The giant US bond fund PIMCO said on Tuesday that it would retreat further
from the German bond market after Moody’s
issued a negative watch on the AAA ratings of Germany, the Netherlands
and Luxembourg. “We’re expecting a further ratings downgrade in the future,”
said the group.
Moody’s warned that Germany faced the “risk of a shock” from a Greek euro exit
and the likely knock-on effects through Spain and Italy, as well the “German
banks’ sizeable exposure to most stressed euro area countries”. The warning
had no immediate effect on German debt markets. Two-year yields remained
below zero due to safe-haven effects.
Moody's cut the outlook on the Eu's bailout fund, the European Financial
Stability Facility, to negative from stable on Tuesday night.
The 17 economists said Europe’s political waters have been muddied by disputes
over eurobonds, debt-pooling, subsidies and fiscal union. None of this was
necessary to break the logjam, they said.
They claimed the system could be stabilised immediately by creating a lender
of last resort to back-stop the bond markets, either by mobilising the ECB
or by giving the eurozone bail-out fund (ESM) a banking licence to borrow
from the ECB.
The deeper problem can then be managed through a European Redemption Fund that
takes over a chunk of the “legacy debt” left by the errors of early EMU,
much like Alexander Hamilton’s sinking fund in the US to clear up the mess
after America’s revolutionary war.
The proposal is based on a plan by the German Council of Experts. Each country
puts all debt above the Maastricht ceiling of 60pc of GDP into the fund.
Each would be responsible for its own debt but would be able to borrow
through joint bonds, raising money on Germany’s credit card.
The debt would be paid off over 20 years, with each state putting up foreign
reserves, gold and other collateral to ensure compliance. It is the opposite
of fiscal union: the eurozone would return to fiscal sovereignty and, since
the liabilities would be fixed and the fund self-liquidating, it would
comply with Germany’s constitution.
The authors say such a move would be the “game changer” missing since the
crisis began. It would be costly for Germany, but “orders of magnitude”
cheaper than the alternative. The German Council of Experts has said the
country would suffer €3 trillion (£2.3 trillion) of damage if EMU blows
apart, a claim hotly disputed by eurosceptics.
In a veiled rebuke to hard-line politicians in Germany, the economists said
the root cause of the crisis has been the boom-bust effect of rampant
capital flows over the past decade – not delinquent behaviour by feckless
nations. “The extent to which markets are currently meting out punishment
against specific countries may be a poor reflection of national
responsibility,” they stated.
But they said the current course had become hopeless. Deepening recession is
“tearing at the social fabric of the deficit states”.
The lack of any light at the end of the tunnel is leading to a populist
backlash in both the debtor and creditor states. The only question is
whether the North or the South succumb to revulsion first.
In: World News
Tags: EU, Euro, Crisis, Eurocrisis, Belgium, Brussels, Bailout, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Eurobonds, Germany, Moody's, Contagion, Rating, Agenture, Fitch, Standard, &, Poors,
Location: England, United Kingdom (UK/GB) (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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