Tag Archives: Angela Merkel

The Existential Crisis of the Euro – Where Did We Go Wrong?

The German government is on the forefront of an attempt to restrict the volatility of the euro exchange rate. First, the German financial regulator BaFin placed a unilateral ban on naked short-selling of eurozone sovereign debt instruments, with little effect. Second, Angela Merkel proposed a comprehensive reform of the stability and growth pact, with tougher rules of the game aiming to achieve one thing in particular: that member states bear the responsibility for a solid budget management. Third, Germany is hosting an international conference on financial market regulation in Berlin.

So far, so good. The markets, however, are not impressed. In fact, some analysts say that the euro may fall below parity with the dollar in the first quarter of 2011. The problem is that the decline in the euro may hurt demand for the region’s sovereign bonds in the year when new debt will be soaring.

The President of the eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker, says that foreign-exchange intervention isn’t an urgent issue.

One leg of the problem according to Proffessor Michel Aglietta, is that we have a solvency problem with Greece, not a liquidity problem. He says that the austerity program for Greece is a ticking bomb that could cost dearly to the whole European Union. He advocates for immediate restructuring of the Greek debt. He also says that the eurozone will not survive without a system for budgetary transfers among eurozone members. according to him the private sector is not capable to compensate for the draconian austerity measures in Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Italy.

Jan Kregel and Rob Parenteau outline the key aspects of the eurozone predicament using the financial balance approach developed by Wynne Godley. They say that the current attempt at “budgetary discipline” in peripheral eurozone members will lead to fiscal retrenchment, private income deflation, and rising private debt distress. They warn that IMF conditionality is bound to set off the twin contagion vectors of falling trade surpluses and rising bank loan losses in the core nations.

I am not an economist. But these warnings against the current EU approach towards the eurozone crisis come from too many places (for alternative ideas see Peter Bofinger and Stefan Ried, Avinash Persaud, and Paul De Grauwe). This issue is way too serious to be decided upon in a hurry.

A Speech That Should Be Listened To

This is a video of the speech by German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressing a joint meeting of the US Congress. Worth listening to.

Merkel Criticizes Central Bankers

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, has strongly criticized the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England for their action against the financial crisis. This is what she had to say:

“What other central banks have been doing must be reversed. I am very sceptical about the extent of the Fed’s actions and the way the Bank of England has carved its own little line in Europe.

(…) Even the European Central Bank has somewhat bowed to international pressure with its purchase of covered bonds.

(…) We must return to independent and sensible monetary policies, otherwise we will be back to where we are now in 10 years’ time.”

This is extraordinary, since the independence of the central banks, and the ECB in particular, is guarded by law.

Turkey Protests Swing on Accession

EUobserver reports that various Turkish politicians have protested against recent remarks by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy on the opportunity for a privileged partnership instead of full accession to the European Union.

Mr. Abdullah Gul, the Turkish president, said:

“Any discussion on this is tantamount to violating the decisions taken by the EU and would mean that the decision to start negotiations with Turkey was not sincere, that the heads of state took a decision that did not reflect their intentions.”

This is probably a good reason to recommend the new book “Turkey’s Accession to the European Union”, edited by Constantine Arvanitopoulos, that deals with many important and relevant issues.