July 14, 2011

The Eurozone crises

Filed under: Economics, Europe — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 17:30

That’s right, crises, not crisis. There are three interlinked crises, not just one:

The crisis in the Eurozone has been lurching from one country to another over the past year or so. After bailouts for Greece, Ireland and Portugal, and with a second bailout for Greece in the offing, the financial markets this week turned their attention to Italy, a far larger economy than those previously affected. Spain, another country struggling to pay its way, has also been hit by austerity measures and political turmoil. But while it is easy to get caught up in the specifics of each new stage of the crisis, it is worth taking a step back to understand what is going on and the possibilities for the future.

The Euro crisis, like just about every other economic story these days, has a three-fold character. It is not, in fact, a single crisis; it has three inter-related elements: financial, economic and political.

Of the three, the financial crisis is, paradoxically, the least significant, even though it is the most prominent of the three and the one which threatens to spin out of control with serious broader consequences. Alongside the financial, the economic aspect is the most entrenched and material of the three, while the political crisis — that is, the failure of the political elites to get on top of the other two challenges — is the most critical, as it is, or should have been, the key to the resolution of the other two. The shift in focus to Italy, the Eurozone’s third largest economy, indicates that time may have run out for effective containment. The Euro genie is probably out of the bottle.

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