The news that Italian bank Unicredit is insisting that Ireland rather than Italy is the ‘I’ in PIGS should hardly come as a surprise. All the PIIGS are at it these days: thus Emilio Botin of Santander is quoted in the FT as saying that “Comparing Spain to Greece is like comparing Real Madrid to Alcoyano”. (Alcoyano is apparently a club in the Spanish second division.) And we have been busily distancing ourselves from everyone else as well.
All this is understandable. As Ken Rogoff puts it,
There is an old joke about two men who are trapped by a lion in the jungle after a plane crash. When the first of them starts putting on his sneakers, the other asks why. The first answers: “I am getting ready to make a run for it.” But you cannot outrun a lion, says the other man, to which the first replies: “I don’t have to outrun the lion. I just have to outrun you.”
However, one of the big lessons of history is that lions rarely make do with just one snack: when defaults come, they come in waves. The 1930s is a good case in point.
Europe needs solidarity, not finger pointing.