The Guacamole Hits the Fan: “Ten Days to Save the Euro”

From the Guardian:

9.18am: Just in case anyone was in doubt about the situation today, EU monetary effairs commissioner Olli Rehn has warned that Europe has just 10 days to “complete and conclude” its crisis response.

The markets for the last six months (and longer) have been crying out for the ECB to go postal, print a tsunami of new paper, buy every troubled asset going, and (ahem) “save the world”.

Stern teutonic monetarism has won the day.

Either that, or Eurocrats see this as a fantastic opportunity to consolidate the Eurozone into a full blown fiscal union:

Now it’s the turn of Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, to sound the alarm. He just told a conference of EU ambassadors that Europe is trapped in a “systemic…full-blown confidence crisis.” Some may blame it on the irrationality of the market. But it’s a fact and we need to confront it.” What’s the solution? Van Rompuy argued that Europe must swallow closer fiscal union (as Germany, for example, has long demanded): “We need a significant step forward towards a real economic union commensurate with our monetary union.”

Don’t these people understand that such measures always come with massive unforeseen consequences? Here’s a rule of thumb any idiot can use: more centralisation means more systemic fragility. Proponents of any such centralisation have to weigh the benefits against the fragility, because when the black swans begin to flock excessive fragility tends to mean collapse.

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Inflating Away the Debt?

Some commentators believe that the best way for Greece — and by extension, everyone with a debt problem — to deal with debt is introducing some mild-to-moderate inflationary pressure (or least, the expectation of such a thing).

The problem is, the evidence (thanks to regular reader Andrei Canciu) suggests this isn’t in the least bit effective:

The real solution for the terminally indebted is not to get into debt in the first place. Once you are there, the pressure of creditors means that the chosen path will generally be a succession of unsuccessful Keynesian can-kicks (or, in Europe, crushing austerity) up to a slow, painful default.

As Keynes put it:

The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.