Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Eurozone turmoil latest - excellent summary

Those looking for a quick, straight-talking update on the continuing financial turmoil in the eurozone could do little better than to read Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's pieces for the Daily Telegraph

This extract below in particular from his latest article provides a perfect summary of recent developments and their implications: 

Events in Europe are now moving fast. Portugal has been in havoc for the last week. Spain is in ever greater havoc. Much of southern Europe has become unpredictable.

Is it the fault of the monetary union and the euro? Yes, of course it is. While large parts of the world are in deep economic crisis – including Britain – the damage is concentrated with lethal intensity in the EMU victim states. Spain’s unemployment rates is already 25pc, and the full austerity has yet to bite.

It is made much worse by the unpleasant discovery that elected governments can do nothing to escape the trap. They have lost control over their own destinies.

Spain and Portugal are trapped in chronic slump with over-valued currencies. While they have clawed back some lost labour competitiveness by cutting wages, this has merely – and necessarily – compounded the debt-deflation disaster. It has pushed them closer to bankruptcy.

The Draghi bond plan can certainly put off the day of reckoning. It can lower borrowing costs across the board and cushion the slump. But it cannot in itself stop the slow asphyxiation of these societies.

We are moving from the financial phase of this crisis to the full-blown political phase. It really is playing out like the 1930s.

Final thought from recent media comment on the euro crisis, however, should go to Chris Morris, the BBC's correspondent in Athens, who says of Greece in his latest article:

So after three governments, two bailouts and an economic contraction of Great Depression proportions, this country isn't out of the woods.

Time, then, to stop avoiding the heart of the problem and start planning an orderly restoration of a national currency? At this stage, there's no pain free solution and clearly no viable alternative to a Greek departure from the euro.