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The Next Euro Meltdown Begins

We’d dared to hope at Via Meadia that the last European pseudo-fix for the euro would be one of the more successful — that it might buy a few weeks or even a couple of months of time before the whiff of panic returned to world financial markets.

We were wrong. We reported earlier this week that the first signs of unraveling — a growing chorus of experts pointing out serious flaws in the new design — had already started to appear. By yesterday’s session in the European financial markets, the “summit effect” had worn off completely. Spanish and Italian bond yields are back to their crisis levels, and once again nobody quite knows what to do.

When the top European officials reconvene, it seems likely that all of them will be in an even weaker position than they’ve been. Italy’s Mario Monti briefly stoked his popularity and prestige by claiming a win at the last summit; the failure of the summit takes the wind out of his sails, and the new weakness in the Italian bond market is an unmistakable vote of no confidence in what he’s accomplished to date. Chancellor Merkel, though she has been buoyed by a favorable opinion poll, faces a growing revolt in her coalition. And there are some signs that the vultures are beginning to circle the French financial markets. French banks are heavily exposed to bad debts in Italy, Greece and Spain. France’s deficit is even higher than thought, the rating agencies have France on negative credit watch, and there are questions about whether Hollande can steer France through the coming storm.

Just when Europe needs vision, confidence and leadership most, its leadership class seems increasingly outmatched by events. The risk now is that Europe’s leaders will lose the ability to calm markets even from day to day. That could happen very fast; the consequences aren’t easy to predict.

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  • Snorri Godhi

    Maybe Sarkozy is glad he lost.

  • Alex Scipio

    Well, the French just chose a new leader, the majority speaking with one voice: “We demand to go bankrupt!” and promptly left town for vacation.

  • mezzrow

    I believe this still holds true – now more than ever, really.

  • JimK

    Finland and the Netherlands are now talking Euro exit. They don’t want to carry the debt for their southern neighbors, imagine that.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    I’m glade to see you have added France to the PIIGS, is it now the FPIIGS? We need a new acronym. Or maybe “France and the PIIGS”

  • Steve Massey

    They should give Farage executive control

  • Russell Snow

    Maybe you can help me understand the crisis. So they borrowed a lot of money. Now they are having trouble borrowing more. Seems to me if they stopped borrowing money the crisis would be over, right?
    Is austerity another word for sanity?

  • bob sykes

    Europeans leaders were overmatched by events in 1914 and again in 1939. And that was when Europe had real countries with real governments facing real problems. In that environment, natural selection should have produced some competence in leadership. That natural selection selection failed to evoke even middling competence suggests some deep-seated wrongness in Europeans themselves and in their society. Europeans just don’t seem up to the task of self-government.

  • vanderleun

    “We’d dared to hope at Via Meadia…”

    Excuse me for saying so, but for how long now has Via Media been daring to hope about this issue? Seems to me that this “hope” this has been emitted here for so long now that it’s become a tired old meme and cliche. It’s sort of like the Obama administration’s admonition to “not read too much into jobs reports numbers.”

    I think that we can take daring to hope as read from this point on in this never ending but steadily spiraling saga.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Jacksonian: Why not call them “the Latins & Greeks”?
    Much less offensive to them, though arguably offensive to the ancient Latins and Greeks.

  • Alex Scipio

    @Bob Sykes:

    Good point on natural selection. Had Woodrow Wilson (D) not used a German request to Mexico to invade the US ( the Zimmerman Telegram) to send an Army to France, and instead of allowing natural selection to work in Europe, the bloody 20th Century would have been hundreds of millions of lives less bloody, and the world would be far safer and arguably freer today. But America hasn’t learned any more from that than we have from the Depression in which Keynesian policies turned a big recession into The Great Depression (all nations not following Keynes exited the Depression more quickly), and now Bush, Pelosi & Obama are using those same policies & proven record of their failure to turn this recession into another Great Depression. By any measure EVERYTHING is worse now than before the Dems took first Congress (2007), their failures put on steroids by Obama beginning in 2009.

    Libya? Syria? Not our problem. Natural selection works. Let it.

  • Alex Scipio


    Re: Europeans not up to self government, 2 comments.

    1. The only 45-yr period of peace in Europe between Westphalia (1648) and 1989 was 1945-1989, when Europeans were sandwiched between the Warsaw Pact & NATO. As soon as the Pact collapsed – they again began killing each other. Europeans have never been able to live together, to expect them to peacefully & successfully govern themselves is fanciful. Look at their “democracy;” not one nation allowed to vote on dumping their sovereign currency approved doing so. The only nations using the euro (and going bankrupt) are those that refused to allow their citizens (“subjects,” really) to vote. Looking @ the eurozone, it’s pretty clear the PEOPLE were right. And the European “constitution.” those who voted “No,” just are told to keep voting until they get it right.

    2. You know what you call a freedom-loving, self-starter, entrepreneurial European? An “American;” he already moved here.

  • Eurydice

    I don’t know that I’d call the weakness in the bond markets a “vote of no confidence” – I think it’s more a price adjustment to reflect reality. Because even if Italy, and Spain and Greece and all the others, do manage to effect all the structural reforms everybody’s asking for, it won’t happen tomorrow or even the next day – and it won’t happen in the same way across all countries. Market participants are finally understanding that they have to do their homework and that a common currency doesn’t mean a common credit risk.

  • Kris

    Snorri@10: “Why not call them ‘the Latins & Greeks’?”

    Ah, the classics. And then when they mess up, we can exclaim: “Well, isn’t that just classic Europe!”

  • Wilhelm

    The EU is not democratic, so what is it? Who controls it? Who benefits from it?
    Thomas Jefferson said that if power is centered hundreds of mile from the people, the people will cease to govern themselves. They cannot control what they cannot see, and the large concentration of power and wealth corrupts.
    It was difficult enough for the Dutch and Austrians to govern themselves and keep their newspapers free. Under the EU, their government is hidden behind armies of foreign attorneys and PR companies. The people of Europe are being transformed into American-style consumers, and ultimately into third-world sweatshop workers. Colonialism was transformed into Globalization; Globalization will fall on its face. The Third World is graduating millions of engineers, executives, and attorneys, they will not work for chump change any longer. The West (silently) eliminated its protective trade barriers (tariffs), to usher in Globalization. — This has resulted in the West having false economies, because they make none of the products they consume. Their citizens don’t even do their own farm work; that is done by migrant workers from the Third World. History teaches us that arrogance and over-consumption spell the end of empire.
    This will occur without even considering the fact that GLOBALIZATION DESTROYS ALL CULTURES. The boring and soulless homoginized corporate drone society, with enemies bristling at every gate, sought strength and a last round of profit-taking by its financial elite, by banding together into the EU. This will be its swan song.
    Adieu large capitalists and their puppet governments and super-governments! Adieu, I hope, forever.


    The economy = the corporate global economy.

    Industrialization = corporate usurpation of production and destruction of the independent craftsman.

    Economic development = replacement of small businesses and self-sufficient local economies with the corporate system.

    Economic freedom = working for the corporations and buying from the corporations.

    Growth = increased corporate profits.

    Job creation =
    1. (Global South) sweatshops, plantations, child labor.
    2. (Global North) paper-shufflers.

    Mobility of capital and ideas = rootlessness, unaccountability.

    Competitive production costs = revocation of centuries-old protective tariffs (trade barriers), enabling production to be moved off shore.

    Global labor market = elimination of environmental, worker safety, minimum wage, & child labor laws.

    Free trade = massive oil-burning transportation system that centralizes economic power in the corporations.

    Privatization = corporate appropriation of public lands and resources.

    The poor = people who live sustainably in true communities and diverse cultures, crafting their own homes, clothing, and utensils, and growing their own organic food, thus requiring little or no cash income. These millions are termed “poor” because industrial capitalism places no value on communities, culture, and the goods and services people provide for themselves.

    Globalization = destruction of all cultures.

    Stabilization = subjugation.

    Shift to export economy = corporate agribusiness theft of peasants’ land forcing migration into big city slums,

    sweatshops, and massive corporate mono-crop plantations.

    Business-friendly environment = corporate puppet regime installed by U.S. military, CIA, Mossad, MI6, etc., and controlled by detailed and conditional World Bank loans.

    European Union = elimination of local democracy and homogenization of Europe’s diverse cultures.

    Costs outsourcing = subsidies, bailouts, and tax breaks given to corporations in exchange for campaign contributions and cash payments.

    Media = propaganda machine owned by corporations and funded by corporate advertising.

    Industry consultant = corporate lobbyist.

    Market creation = advertising and selling increasingly complex, costly, and unnecessary consumer products.

    Automobile = an expensive, dangerous, stressful, and environmentally destructive personal isolation chamber which disrupts, disperses, and destroys compact pedestrian communities.

    Infrastructure = subsidized freeway sprawl forcing reliance on the automobile.

    Television = an addictive corporate advertising and “news” propaganda device, which wastes time formerly used for family, friends, community, and the reading of books.

    Peace-keeping forces = occupying army.

    Insurgent = local citizen resisting occupation.

    Military-industrial complex = $Trillions in obscene upper-class profits made from thousands of senseless middle & lower-class deaths.

    Private Security Contractors = Mercenaries who replace soldiers in occupied countries, facilitating the image of US departure democracy.

    “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent.
    It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage —
    to move in the opposite direction.” –Albert Einstein

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