Clive Hale's View from the Bridge: The euro is dead; long live the euro
Comment of the Day

May 25 2012

Commentary by David Fuller

Clive Hale's View from the Bridge: The euro is dead; long live the euro

This experienced, independent observer takes a wry look at the west's financial struggles. Here is the opening:
Despite all the stories of apocalypse now there is a fighting chance that Greece will stay in the eurozone for the time being. This is the real tragedy of course, but unfortunately for all involved there just isn't the political appetite for "Grexit". The Germans have done their sums and if Greece leaves they are in deep, way above the top of their lederhosen. The Greeks of course want to stay on the euro gravy train, but it is German gravy and Siemens almost certainly built the loco. Merkel is increasingly isolated but being from the old East Germany she is almost certainly dangerous when cornered. The option for her may not be kicking the Greeks into touch, but taking Germany back to the DMark and leaving the French to sort the mess out. This is something her Finance Minister, who looks increasingly like one of Peter Sellers' characters in Dr Strangelove, would heartily approve of and might even get her re-elected.

David Fuller's view This situation is even more about politics than economics, so anyone's guess is in with a chance.

Nevertheless there are behavioural clues.

According to CNBC this morning, recent polls indicate that 70% of Greek voters are very unhappy with austerity but over 80% of them would like to stay in the euro. Well, who but a self-flagellating masochist would be happy with austerity when it affects them?

Therefore the poll on preferring to stay in the euro is much more important. Love of the euro by supplicants will touch even the darkest heart in Brussels' bureaucratic headquarters, or even in Berlin, ex-Bundesbank members excepted.

Also, since the devil we know is often preferable to one we do not know, Euroland officials are likely to conclude that they already have enough unpalatable items on their plates, without having to digest the various consequences of a disorderly exit from the euro by Greece. Therefore the soft option is to print more money so that Greece's leftists, currently leading in the polls, can claim bragging rights to a concession.

Similarly, Germany's exporters will prefer higher profits and some inflation with a soft euro, rather than lower profits and deflation with a reconstituted Deutsche mark. Therefore I disagree with rumours that Germany's politicians are secretly and seriously considering withdrawing from the euro.

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