Wither the Euro
Posted on November 3, 2011
Either the Greeks should pull out of the Euro or the Europeans should kick them out.
That is how I look at the current debt crisis that has hit the financial markets.
I had the opportunity to peak behind the scenes of thinking of leading European institutions in the year 2000, just as the Euro was transitioning to become the leading currency on the continent.
I was lucky enough to be selected to participate in a European Union Fellowship, and I got a chance to spend some quality time in Brussels and Strasbourg.
I worked for Speaker Hastert at the time, and I left days after the Bush-Gore election, which still had not been decided (and wouldn’t be for the whole time I was in Europe).
The Europeans were nervous about Bush. They wanted Gore to win. The Vice President shared their perspectives on global warming (this was especially of interest to the Danes and the Finns), and they didn’t think that Bush had the intellectual curiosity to be President.
I had serious reservations about the Euro. I thought this whole idea was being foisted on the people by an intellectual elite, who didn’t really understand how deeply different each individual country was. I couldn’t believe that the Germans would gladly give up the Mark or the French would gladly give up the Franc.
It turns out we were both right.
From a European perspective, Bush was a disaster.
And right now, it looks like the Euro is headed for a similar disaster.
The Greeks have different values than the Germans. The Spanish and the French have different histories.
Expecting the Greeks and the Portuguese and the Spanish and the Irish to act like good little Germans still seems insane to me.
They are different types of people, and they need different currencies that reflect that.
Greece is probably going to default on its debt. It may not be tomorrow and it may not be next month. But as some point in time, they are going to say enough to their friends in Berlin, and then the Germans will kick them out of the Euro.
And then the Greek economy will collapse for a while, ala Argentina. But it will come back, because it will have a weak currency, which will make its products cheaper and tourists will start flocking there again.
The Greeks weren’t meant for the Euro. They should get out of it.