Why a collapse of the Eurozone must be avoided

Anders Aslund tries to find a ‘middle way’ between Sinn and Whelan on Target2 imbalances in this VOX article.

40 thoughts on “Why a collapse of the Eurozone must be avoided”

  1. A “middle way”?

    “The Russian reformers set such ceilings on the credits from the Central Bank of Russia to the other post-Soviet countries to limit Russia’s losses and break up the ruble zone, as happened. No such limit on a clearing balance is permissible in a currency zone. Nor is it permissible to ignore these balances, as Whelan seems to suggest, because they can become real.

    Sadly, both Sinn and Whelan’s lines of argument are likely to contribute to the disruption of the Eurozone. Sinn’s argument is a straightforward copy of the Russian breakup of the ruble zone, while Whelan ignores the problem of uncleared Target2 balances.”

    In short, both are wrong.

    Aslund is also right on every other count.

    On the likely candidate among the better-off countries to quit the euro, AEP of the Telegraph has a contribution which sketches in the wider context with regard to Finland (which also involves Russia).

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/9485917/Russian-Bear-stops-Finland-leaving-euro.html

    Luckily, the EU is not the Soviet Union.

  2. Aslund is good …. did not receive much comment on earlier thread ..

    FYI worth a read …

    08/21/2012
    The Greek Dilemma
    Three Thorny Paths to Saving the Euro
    By Stefan Kaiser

    Currently, discussions are focusing on three possible ways to halt the dramatic rises in interest rates for sovereign bonds:

    • the massive purchase of sovereign bonds by the European Central Bank (ECB) to cap the yields

    • providing unlimited firepower for the permanent euro bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), by providing it with a banking license that would, de facto, give the institution the ability to print money

    • introducing common euro-zone debt issuance, so-called euro bonds

    All three proposals have one thing in common: They’ve never been attempted before and it’s almost impossible to foresee what consequences they could have. With each proposal, experts are warning of potentially dangerous side effects. But the euro-zone countries and central banks may have to opt for one of them — and choose the lesser of three evils.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/the-greek-dilemma-three-thorny-paths-to-saving-the-euro-a-851268.html

    IMHO a vacuum exists between Sinn & Whelan

  3. @DOCM

    Finland too will ‘soften its cough’ .. as will the Dutch Finance Minister.

    The last member of the eurozone to benefit from a AAA rating from the three major ratings agencies, Finland has nonetheless begun to show signs of weakness. La Croix notes that “the situation deteriorated in the course of second quarter with a one per cent decline in GDP”.

    According to Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen, the country could go into recession if the global economic slowdown continues. […] Although Finnish state finances are in very healthy state, with a deficit of just 0.8 per cent of GDP, the country remains vulnerable to external shocks. Exports account for 40 per cent of GDP, of which 30 per cent is in trade with other members of the monetary union.

    http://www.presseurop.eu/en/content/news-brief/2550911-increasingly-vulnerable-and-keeping-its-distance

  4. @Anders Aslund

    Yes – avoid break up at all costs. Greece stays in EZ. The ‘clean solution’ [see der Spiegel piece above and earlier Aslund thread on this blog] which you think too difficult, is probably the best – ECB to cap interest rates at which it will directly intervene in bond markets [Draghi’s most recent intervention in the battle of ideas]. EuroBonds may have to wait for a ‘medium’ while.

  5. A very good article providing fairly original historically informed analysis… more please.

    Although I would caution against using the experience of 3 failed currency unions to predict the consequences of the next, it is does seem to be becoming more likely that the end will come when Finland, the Netherlands or Germany decide that they have had enough.

    “The countries that departed early and resolutely were most successful.”

    I think there may be a lesson for Ireland in there: close the deficit quickly and get out of the Eurozone while the going is good, before Finland decides it wants out. (Of course we would need some real leaders and visionaries in government.)

    We could then begin on deep constitutional and political reform. (Now I’m really kidding myself).

  6. Oops Pardon – I’m confusing Aslund with Ghezzi thread.

    @bazza

    Finland is going nowhere – see link above. We lack the political leadeship and institutional social and economic foundations to go alone. We need more local restructuring of power elites and gougers and more fighting spirit wihin the EZ. What have we contributed in terms of intellectual ideas or practical suggestions on getting out of the EZ crisis? Good question. Simple enough answer.

  7. Off thread for all Ayn_een Randites on the blog …

    New York Review of Books

    Romney’s Choice
    Elizabeth Drew
    Paul Ryan is the charming ideologue driven by an ambition robust even by Washington standards. He has been the young man in a hurry, with dead aim; the indefatigable persuader; the self-created “man of ideas,” articulate and conspicuous. “Ideas” politicians can be more likeable and interesting than wise. Yet those who broke out in celebration upon learning that Mitt Romney had chosen Ryan as his running mate, certain that the Wisconsin Congressman’s radical worldview would surely sink the Romney ticket, may find him more dangerous than they currently assume.

    Romney’s essential political problem was that people simply don’t like him. Polls measuring his and Obama’s likeability were showing an ever-widening gap in Obama’s favor. And by now Obama had done a more effective job of undermining Romney as a credible candidate than Romney had of convincing the country that Obama’s handling of the economy disqualified him from reelection. As a consensus grew within the political world that Romney was on a losing course, William Kristol, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and other influential conservative voices insisted that his only hope of winning lay in offering the vice-presidential slot to Ryan.

    http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/aug/16/romneys-choice/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=August+21+2012&utm_content=August+21+2012+CID_0eec76a6b0ebac695d71a3d3f4cea229&utm_source=Email+marketing+software&utm_term=Romneys+Choice

  8. It’s good to get the views of a rare economist like Anders Åslund, who has been tested by fire.

    The pros and cons of shock therapy of course cannot be distilled into a soundbite.

    @ David O’Donnell

    Dana Millbank of the Wash. Post has a piece here on the American Hezbollah and attributing natural disasters to divine intervention:

    wapo.st/NZQK8t

    Wonder what message the faithful would take next week if a category 4 hurricane hits Tampa?

  9. @Michael Hennigan

    (-; I often wonder which if more fundamentalist – the Iranian Exec or the GOP – let’s call it a tie. Ryan’s aproach to medicare, medicaid, and welfare are quite simply appaling while providing more tax cuts to the mega rich …. of course control of informatics and media convinces many US citizens to vote against their own better interests [tea party prime example] …. that said, I find a 20 minute dose of FoxNewz to be a cheap form of internal regulation – never fails!

  10. @ david
    The thing people always miss is that they arent voting against their own interests. The Romney/Ryan plan is to leave entitlements alone for the current generation and pull up the ladder there after. The tea partiers are looking out for number one, they’re not against welfare for themselves(they worked hard and they deserve whats coming to them) just for the undeserving gay, coloured, muslim, disabled othe,r how are getting something for nothing and arent real ‘murkens in the first place. Strapping young bucks cruising around in Cadillacs buying steaks with food stamps.

  11. There’s a bit of a whiff off Aslund’s article.

    Under each of the historical precedents he quotes, there was a lot more going on than just the currency break-up. Fiscal transfers that had artificially inflated output in some areas of the currency unions he discusses came to an end – to the advantage of some of the successor states and disadvantage of others. There was a more general structural adjustment dissolving patterns of internal and external trade that had been shaped by political and arbitrary administrative considerations. In at least some cases, the end of the centralised state drove a sharp reduction in military-related economic activity.

    Specifically in the cases of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, large numbers of enterprises were suddenly exposed to much more capable international competitors, causing substantial parts of those economies to collapse or shrink.

    For all its faults, the EU is made up of market economies, with fairly free trade and military spending that is not (Greece aside) so excessive that it is likely to fall sharply. In theory, at least, fiscal transfers are already low. It is not clear to me that there is an enormous amount left in what Aslund says after discounting for these differences from the historical precedents he quotes.

  12. Just to add, on Romania and Bulgaria, that the reasons why they did better than the former components of the Soviet Union may be more to do with aid and access to developed EU markets than the fact that they escaped a currency breakup.

  13. @BCT

    I posted this earlier … just for you again.

    Austrian and Finnish ministers should be wary of making rash statements on the future of the euro, writes JOHN BRUTON
    Both men should read a paper by a man who actually has some direct recent experience of what happens after the breaking up of monetary unions.

    He is Anders Aslund, and he worked as an adviser to the Russian government during the break-up of the rouble currency union between 1991 and 1994. The rouble had been the common currency of the former Soviet Union. Aslund’s paper is published on the website of the Washington-based Peterson Institute of International Economics.

    Aslund says the result of even one country leaving the currency union would be chaotic.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2012/0821/1224322586000.html

    I’m +1 with Aslund and have been throughout this crisis due to foundation of Solidarity Principle in the European Project

  14. @DOD,
    I don’t understand why you think John Bruton quoting Aslund should be any more convincing than Aslund making the same points himself in the article that Philip linked.

    Since the start of this crisis, we have been afflicted by public institutions and public intellectuals trying to sell us on the unique importance of their favourite disaster. The reality is that a good deal of what has been done to satisfy those who shouted loudest has had the effect of substituting one disaster for another rather than actually digging us out of the hole we are in.

    Aslund looks to me to be just another guy set on telling us that his favourite disaster is the one that should worry us most. To my mind, it is obvious from the historical record that at least some of the issues he attributes to currency break-up were caused by other factors, and that he is therefore not providing a well balanced assessment of either the risks associated with currency break-up or the costs of preventing breakup.

  15. A very interesting article. I wonder if the EZ peripherals will get the same treatment as Eastern Europe did post the collapse of communism. Peripheral EZ is still core in terms of the economic system. The point of extending the EU to Spain, Ireland etc was about building consumer markets for MNCs . Going back to national fiefdoms wouldn’t solve anything. Finland joined the EU because it couldn’t go alone after the fall of communism.

  16. @BCT

    ‘… he is therefore not providing a well balanced assessment of either the risks associated with currency break-up or the costs of preventing breakup.

    IMHO, I don’t think anyone could credibly quantify such risks and costs at the mo. The key point is that break ups are messy and serfs suffer for a quarter of a century or more …. so such historicals are usefull … and all are contextual in their own times … no universals here except all were balls-ups of the highest category and serfs suffered immensely …

    I’m totally against break up – the Solidarity Principle must hold if European Project to survive and prosper … so Greece must stay. Admittedly the Solidarity Principle is looking rather unkempt at the mo ….

  17. @DOD,
    Breakups are undoubtedly messy. However, Aslund’s assessment is so unbalanced that it tells us next to nothing about whether the quarter century or more of pain that he alleges might be accurate in the context of a eurozone breakup.

  18. @ MH

    Thanks for the link. I love the Tom Toles cartoons

    http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/norman-ornstein

    However awkward it may be for the traditional press and nonpartisan analysts to acknowledge, one of the two major parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier—ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. When one party moves this far from the center of American politics, it is extremely difficult to enact policies responsive to the country’s most pressing challenges

  19. Aslund is the typical anglo ivory tower dweller.

    Taking his small sub division of social studies as the center stone of the real world.

    Saying, you should avoid divorce at “any cost”, because, based on “flimsy statistics” (his own words), this might not be good for your financial accounting. Gosh, who would have thought that.

    Well, maybe there are more important things in the world than GDP numbers. What a heretic thought.

    No wonder, that the governments he advised did not do particularly well : – )

  20. Anders Aslund (wiki: advocate of and advisor in the controversial “shock therapy”)

    and his Peterson Institute, the guys who produce the phantasy numbers for “fair currency exchange rates” (http://w.iie.com/publications/pb/pb11-05.pdf) whenever US Congress needs to beat up a foreign country.

    According to them the Euro should be at 1.5 Dollars (page 11) so that Greece, Portugal, and Spain compete at a “plain level field” in the world market, after an internal devaluation of just a little 40%, give or take a little?

    But what does a John Brutus care (wiki: ” born to a wealthy [..] family”).
    He can always use some cheap domestics, when unemployment hits 30%.

    David O’ Donnell, those are your (new?) friends ?

  21. @GENAUER

    CSU/FDP Solidarity

    http://www.presseurop.eu/en/content/cartoon/2558531-anvil-rescue

    As no reasonable response from your good self, Blind Biddy has sold your rifle on the black market to the Retired Greek Colonel. Both TullMcAdoo & DOCM put in a late bids, but in the interests of human health & safety both were ignored. Ukike those submarines, The colonel is very impressed with its pristine, well oiled and never used state. Credit where credit is due – who ever they are.

  22. FYI Cultural Differences Worth a read

    Debate
    Europeans — too different to get on together
    22 August 2012 Dagens Nyheter Stockholm

    Above and beyond the diverging economic performance of EU countries, cultural differences between the people of Europe constitute the main obstacle to the creation of a homogeneous European society. Given the extent of these divisions, it is not surprising that the European project has run into difficulty.

    … And make no mistake, the North is as strange as the South, and the East is as odd as the West, and vice versa. It is simply a matter of point of view.

    Europe is like an extremely fragile honeycomb, composed of cultural, historical and mental idiosyncrasies in which no two Europeans are really alike. And yet we persist in viewing this Europe, not as a honeycomb, but as a pot of honey that is ready to eat.

    http://www.presseurop.eu/en/content/article/2562031-europeans-too-different-get-together

  23. @David,

    I appreciate that you get my name right, now. But that is about it.
    I ll hope that you enjoy your evening with your friends Blind Biddy, Greek Colonel, Anders “shock therapy” Aslund, Dr. “class warfare” Flassbeck”.

    You are the real posterboy for why the nordic/core Europe should file for financial divorce, NOW.

  24. John Gerard Bruton and Anders Aslund (oxford PhD) are poster boys for a very general problem of GIPSI countries.
    As the Papandreou, Venizelos, Samaras in Greece. Bush, Kennedy in the US. Sarkozy junior in France
    Born with a silver spoon in their mouth, to wealthy parents, who have not shown any industrious success, but some alleged, ancient heroism, and the power of political connections.
    Serving first their family and clientele, and the nation and the general welfare comes second and third.
    Very unlike to engineering folks like Bosch, Siemens, Daimler, Quandt. Traders like Aldi, Lidl, Hexal.

    German Chancellors serve the fatherland first and only. I am not aware of any chancellors child ever having any relevant role in german politics or industry. If their would be any children. Iron Angela, Altmaier ?

  25. Debt crisis
    Banks are preparing for “Grexit”
    22 August 2012 Presseurop Süddeutsche Zeitung

    “Psssst!” whispers Süddeutsche Zeitung: Want to know the worst-kept secret of the big US and European banks? They’re preparing for the worst: the exit of Greece from the eurozone and even the break-up of the eurozone itself, writes the newspaper. “An army of management consultants and lawyers” have been working for weeks on “the infinite number of things to do” in response to bankruptcy in Athens. Tasks range from how to manage riots in the crisis countries, where the safety of bank employees will be an issue, through to ensuring the stability of the hot lines for advising investors and preparing computer systems to reckon in drachmas.

    http://www.presseurop.eu/en/content/news-brief/2564171-banks-are-preparing-grexit

    The lemmings moment …. and the unknown law of catastrophic consequences

  26. The reality:

    08/22/2012
    Break with Cronyism
    Athens Shows Its Commitment to Austerity
    By Georgios Christidis and David Böcking

    Many German politicians accuse Greece of not doing enough to cut spending. But studies show that, measured in relative terms, Athens has carried out the most brutal austerity program in the EU’s history. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is making it clear that he wants to change his country’s culture of cronyism.

    … However, the reality is much different. Measured according to GDP, the Greeks are clearly making much deeper cuts than all other crisis-hit countries in the euro zone. This was recently confirmed by a study from the central bank of Ireland, which itself has a reputation as a model cost-cutter. The report finds that, since 2010, Greece has responded to pressure from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund by slashing expenditures and raising taxes worth the equivalent of 20 percent of GDP — which represents the most brutal belt-tightening program in the history of the EU. This achievement is particularly noteworthy given the fact that it has taken place in the midst of a severe recession.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/athens-shows-its-commitment-to-austerity-a-851547.html

  27. @DoD
    +1 here for what it is worth. Currency break ups are always painful in my limited experience, because they come as a result of debt overloads and to BCT’s comment that in the other cases, there were other factors at play. Strategic factors in Greece Vs Turkey, Finland Vs Russia are just two examples. It seems dangerous to assume that Greece can be kicked out without a) massive fallout across the financial sector and b) geo-strategic reverberations.

  28. @ genauer
    You have a big point about the toxic effects of family/dynastic politics, but there is plenty of family in the big business world too. As for finance, the family connections go back centuries in some cases.

    I doubt that you really believe in the old stuff about ‘serving the Fatherland’, because we have seen where nationalism leads. On the recommendation of the Dork, I recently read Philip Bobbit’s ‘Shield of Achilles’ which provides a great overview of the relationship between war and statecraft over many centuries. Rulers are always subject to a multiplicity of pressures and influences, and often define the ‘fatherland’, and their duties to it, in ways that suit other purposes.

  29. David is just making the point, in his usual style, that the Greeks didn’t dig this hole by themselves, and they are trying to move forward. Ditto for the Irish, so if the EZ is in a mess it behoves the strongest powers to take the biggest share of responsibility for sorting it out. Exporting and marketing stuff is not an unreserved good in itself, because there are wider issues of balance and development.

  30. @genauer

    Have you heard of The Frankfurt School? Adorno, Horkheimer, Fromm, Habermas, Honneth et al? I went to school there – but did not find any narrow nationalism of your ilk there! I wonder why? Not to mention Kant, Hegel, and Marx … methinks I might be more genuinely german than you – then again I’m a European, and quite proud of it, notwithstanding the mess that it’s in at the mo.

    BTW – you forgot Krups and its illustrious history. I won’t get into detail.

    I’m also a fan of Walter Hallstein, Wehrmacht, German and European Patriot, Founder of the European Project, CDU, and first president of the European Commission. Suggest again that you check him out.

  31. Walter Hallstein (17 November 1901 – 29 March 1982) was a German politician and professor.

    He was one of the key figures of European integration after World War II, becoming the first President of the Commission of the European Economic Community, serving from 1958 to 1967. He famously defined his position as “a kind of Prime Minister of Europe”.[1] His name is associated with the Hallstein Doctrine, a key doctrine in West German foreign policy during the Cold War.


    On 7 January 1958 Hallstein was appointed first president of the Commission of the European Economic Community (now the European Commission) in Brussels, a post he was to retain until 1967.[2]

    In 1961 he was awarded the Charlemagne prize (Karlspreis) by the City of Aachen for his efforts in the cause of European federation.[2]

    In 1962, when the United Kingdom and Ireland were applying to join the European Economic Community, he startled an Irish journalist by saying that he had not thought it necessary even to open, let alone read Ireland’s application. He then memorably summed up Ireland’s dilemma “If the UK goes in, you go also; if not you too will stay out. Britain can possibly come in without Ireland but Ireland cannot come in without Britain ” He was proved entirely right: the French veto on the United Kingdom made it effectively impossible for Ireland to join until the removal of the French veto made it possible for both to join in 1972.[3]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Hallstein

    He also warned againt the type of dictatorial Gaullism presently adopted by Chancellor Merkel. Perhaph she might also brush up on CDU history.

  32. I wondered first, whether I should respond, and if, how. Some quick quip about the Frankfurt school, etc.

    1. fatherland
    I am aware that “fatherland” and “to serve” have very different connotations in Ireland.
    To emigrate was not only a way for a very few rich in Ireland, when things got tough, and serving in a British army was not something, which helped your fellow Irish neighbors. I would not (openly) blame an Irishman or young Greek, who emigrates, to be unsolidaric or unpatriotic. We all have only one life.

    But I have a fatherland, and I did serve it, not “proudly” parading around on a 4th of July, but with grim determination, well aware that I would be dead very quickly, if the east/west conflict goes hot, maybe for reasons completely unrelated to Germany. Where I served, my expected half life-time was 2 days, and that was not theatrics. That sharpens your thinking about what price you are willing to pay and why, considerably. What kind of obligations I have and/or feel towards “The West”, my nation, my “Heimat”, my family, my life. I volunteered, and my otherwise conservative father actually tried to obstruct the assignment.

    I urge all of you, to let it settle in, what I say, for a few days, before you answer with cheap shots on something, which is probably somewhat strange to you.

    2. The “von”ses
    In lack of a proper translation, it is not, that we don’t have this in Germany as well, the folks with hereditable titles, the connections, the inherited wealth. “Von Siemens”, “von Zitzewitz”, “von der Leyen” (you know, the one with the 7 kids, a professorship, minister), and (formerly Dr) “von und zu Guttenberg”. The Hohlmaier daughter of FJS, and some others, I don’t want to name.

    They have (nearly) all some things in common: never really worked in their lives, before getting in positions of power, all having a sense of entitlement, all perfectly willing and used to shameless lies, and expecting, on obvious experience, to get away with it, always willing to sacrifice some underlings for their careers. Most of them have dubious academic titles.

    We also have one positive example, the “de Maiziere”s , I believe.

    The point I made, in Germany we usually bite their heads off, in the moment it becomes too obvious. I don’t give “von der Leyen” more than a year from now on. And we have plenty of real talent, like Merkel.
    When I look at Greek politicians, professors, and their bios, “achievements”, I see only garbage. Please take a look at Venizelos, Papandreou, Karamanlis, Samaras, etc.

    3. Productivity and the wealth of nations
    Siemens and Bosch invented new things, produced things a lot more cheaper, created “real wealth”, Aldi and Lidl (both NOT family names!) distributed wares more cheaply and made the live of common people better, by providing the goods at a lot lower price, … , and made fortunes with that, the latter in recent times. Bosch and Zeiss and the traders are still not traded publicly.

    Producing a better telegraph, the first generator. In the wiki I find sentences like:
    “In the 1920s Siemens constructed the Ardnacrusha Hydro Power station on the River Shannon in the then Irish Free State, and it was a world first for its design. The company is remembered for its desire to raise the wages of its under-paid workers only to be overruled by the Cumann na nGaedheal government”

    Planted ?

    4. The Aslunds, Soros, Peterson Institute, Chicago School
    Who of them has ever created any real world value, an i-pad, a PC, a better mouth trap, … ? Every dollar they make, somebody else has to loose first. There is no creation, but looting.
    When Aslund and his Chicago School friends were done with here, Mother Russia was gang raped and bankrupt, a lot of “advisors” rich and some folks suddenly oligarchs, billionaires, with plenty of ownership in UK, US, when and where they have to flee.
    There are lots of stories of Greeks buying houses in Berlin and London, not wrangling about prices and preferring to pay in cash.
    Aslund, Soros, Paulson for sure have no fatherland, and will not serve anything, but their own wallet and the highest bidder.
    What frustrates the scrouges in the moment, is, that this does not seem to work with the Euro.
    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fortunes-to-be-made-off-euro-crisis-just-not-yet-2012-08-22
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-13/hedge-funds-have-74-billion-as-europe-fire-sale-delayed.html
    Well, as soon as those folks know, or think to know, how the Nordic/German creditors are hedged in, fortunes are to be made, from whom? Why?
    The job of the ESM is, to bankrupt them, and not to enrich them.
    What was used up in the last 2 years was a lot of “European social capital”. Trust, “Credit” destroyed, sometimes for generations.
    From people very close to Brussels:
    “Their Brussels, our Netherlands.”
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-23/dutch-elections-risk-muddying-merkel-s-crisis-fighting-efforts.html

    @ paul quigley
    If it wouldnt be my respect for you, I wouldnt have bought „the shield of Achilles“, and I will read it first, before making quick and stupid comments : – )

    @ David O Donnell
    I read this “Frankfurt school” stuff too, 30 years ago. I forgot, what it was all about, and I read the wiki, and I still don’t know it. Sociology blather, nobody gives anything about anymore. But may be you enlighten me, what it means to you, today.
    Why do you line up with “shock therapy” people like Aslund? I am really still wondering. Just because it would hurt ordinary german people? Do you hate us so much?
    What is your Hallstein comment about, this delusional “ Prime Minister of Europe”, in his phantasy only?. I have no problem to admit, that we had and have our fair share of crazies, like him, in our history. Did this guy ever control more than one secretary?

  33. @genauer

    ‘“In the 1920s Siemens constructed the Ardnacrusha Hydro Power station on the River Shannon in the then Irish Free State, and it was a world first for its design. The company is remembered for its desire to raise the wages of its under-paid workers only to be overruled by the Cumann na nGaedheal government”

    Thank you for this ‘historical insight’ which appears to match the present Fine Gael strategy of #poppy line down# in the flawed actions and policies, Minister Bruton in particular: high skill low wage or high skill comfortable wage, noting that the former is a failure well before implementation and decidedly the false route in industrial and labour market policy.

  34. @ genauer

    Points noted and much food for thought. Is’nt is strange that people are often so clever in solving all sorts of technical challenges, but so dumb in dealing with social and psychological problems. The EZ crisis is not just an economic problem, IMHO, it’s a crisis of society. We have reached the limits of debt-fuelled consumerism. Things must be consumed but consumption is, I am sure you will agree, not really a suficient reason for living. Without sociology, how can we possibly understand religion, art or family life ?

    From wiki, re the Frankfurt School:

    ‘Horkheimer maintained that critical theory should be directed at the totality of society in its historical specificity (i.e. how it came to be configured at a specific point in time), just as it should improve understanding of society by integrating all the major social sciences, including geography, economics, sociology, history, political science, anthropology, and psychology.

    While critical theory must at all times be self-critical, Horkheimer insisted that a theory is only critical if it is explanatory. Critical theory must therefore combine practical and normative thinking in order to “explain what is wrong with current social reality, identify actors to change it, and provide clear norms for criticism and practical goals for the future.”[19]

    Whereas traditional theory can only mirror and explain reality as it presently is, critical theory’s purpose is to change it; in Horkheimer’s words the goal of critical theory is “the emancipation of human beings from the circumstances that enslave them”.

    Rather than looking forward to a better life, so many people today are are looking at a future of debt slavery. Their childrens’ and grandchildrens’ lives poorer than their own. The troubles of the PIIGS will in the end become the troubles of the Germans, if new thinking does not emerge at a Euro level. That will be a sad outcome from the fall of the Berlin Wall.

  35. I agree that a collapse of the EZ should be avoided. A collapse of the EZ will lead to competitive currency devaluations followed by a breakdown of the EU itself.

    The EZ will not be brought down by the PIIGS + France, it will be ended by the shortsightedness of electorates in Germany, Austria, Finland, Nederlands. Ireland has to take the position that we fully support the EZ but regretfully we have to round up support for an alternative, collectively or individually in anticipation of rejection by GAFiN. Ireland should not be left standing like a rabbit in the dazzler as we were in the last fiasco.

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