Paul Krugman: Crash of the Bumblebee
Will the euro be saved? Should it be saved?:
Crash of the Bumblebee, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Last week Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, declared that his institution “is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro” — and markets celebrated. ... But will the euro really be saved? That remains very much in doubt.
First of all, Europe’s single currency is a deeply flawed construction. And Mr. Draghi, to his credit, actually acknowledged that. “The euro is like a bumblebee,” he declared. “This is a mystery of nature because it shouldn’t fly but instead it does. So the euro was a bumblebee that flew very well for several years.” But now it has stopped flying. What can be done? The answer, he suggested, is “to graduate to a real bee.”
Never mind the dubious biology, we get the point. In the long run, the euro will be workable only if the European Union becomes much more like a unified country. ...
But ... a United States of Europe won’t happen soon, if ever, while the crisis of the euro is now. So what ... could turn this dangerous situation around? The answer is fairly clear: policy makers would have to (a) do something to bring southern Europe’s borrowing costs down and (b) give Europe’s debtors the same kind of opportunity to export their way out of trouble that Germany received during the good years — that is, create ... a temporary rise in German inflation... The trouble is that Europe’s policy makers seem reluctant to do (a) and completely unwilling to do (b).
In his remarks, Mr. Draghi ... basically floated the idea of having the central bank buy lots of southern European bonds to bring those borrowing costs down. But ... German officials appeared to throw cold water on that idea. In principle, Mr. Draghi could just overrule German objections, but would he really be willing to do that?
And bond purchases are the easy part. The euro can’t be saved unless Germany is also willing to accept substantially higher inflation... — and so far I have seen no sign that German officials are even willing to discuss this issue...
So could the euro be saved? Yes, probably. Should it be saved? Yes, even though its creation now looks like a huge mistake. For failure of the euro wouldn’t just cause economic disruption; it would be a giant blow to the wider European project, which has brought peace and democracy to a continent with a tragic history.
But will it actually be saved? Despite Mr. Draghi’s show of determination, that is, as I said, very much in doubt.
Posted by Mark Thoma on Monday, July 30, 2012 at 12:33 AM in Economics, International Finance, Monetary Policy |
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