Thursday, August 4, 2011

She's Got a Trichet to Ride

Megadiving in the markets today.  Nobody knows for sure what fears live in the hearts of market makers, but today it seems to be goings-on in Yurp, where the German-Italian bond spread continues to balloon.  The ECB's policies have been disastrous, predictably.

The most interesting proposal to resolve the crisis is this one from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.  Generally I find AE-P to be a bit of a breathless blowhard, but at first glance the idea that Germany should withdraw from the Euro is quite intriguing.  Germany, along with a few others in concert, are more likely to be able to pull off a orderly withdrawal because they are more likely to be able to keep the whole thing secret.  Discretion during any unplanned currency switchover is very important, because public knowledge is likely to trigger a bank run.  (The situation is different if the changeover is announced years in advance, as happened with the formation of the Euro.)  The new currency - lets call it the nordmark - would appreciate against the rump Euro, allowing the South European countries to regain competitiveness and grown their economies without suffering through years of deflation first..

As always, reality is likely to be a lot more complicated, so such a move may end up making everything worse compared to organizing bailouts and haircuts and other such things within the existing currency union.  Or individual countries in the so-called PIIGS quintet may be better off going their own way.  Dunno.  But like the auto bankruptcies here in America, whatever happens should happen in an organized manner, because we know that chaotic failure will produce the worst outcome.  And right now Germany and its proxy the ECB are steering the Eurobus towards a cliff.

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