The Hole in Europe’s Bucket


At this point, Greece, where the crisis began, is no more than a grim sideshow. The clear and present danger comes instead from a sort of bank run on Italy, the euro area’s third-largest economy. Investors, fearing a possible default, are demanding high interest rates on Italian debt. And these high interest rates, by raising the burden of debt service, make default more likely.

It’s a vicious circle, with fears of default threatening to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. To save the euro, this threat must be contained. But how? The answer has to involve creating a fund that can, if necessary, lend Italy (and Spain, which is also under threat) enough money that it doesn’t need to borrow at those high rates. Such a fund probably wouldn’t have to be used, since its mere existence should put an end to the cycle of fear. But the potential for really large-scale lending, certainly more than a trillion euros’ worth, has to be there.

And here’s the problem: All the various proposals for creating such a fund ultimately require backing from major European governments, whose promises to investors must be credible for the plan to work. Yet Italy is one of those major governments; it can’t achieve a rescue by lending money to itself. And France, the euro area’s second-biggest economy, has been looking shaky lately, raising fears that creation of a large rescue fund, by in effect adding to French debt, could simply have the effect of adding France to the list of crisis countries. […]

You see what I mean about the situation being funny in a gallows-humor fashion? What makes the story really painful is the fact that none of this had to happen.

Selbst das alles (schwarzen) Humors entkleidete Zitat ist aufschlußreich – umso mehr der komplette Text (Paul Krugman in der New York Times – ich überlege, ob es Sinn macht, doch noch einmal einer Zeitung in ihrer Papierform eine Chance zu geben).

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