Posts tagged ‘euro’

Grexit: It’s a question of how, not if, Greece will leave the euro

By , 26 May, 2012, No Comment

Over at Foreign Exchange, I’ve got a post up on the euro. Short version: all signs now point to a Greek exit, and Christine Lagarde has given a statement indicated there is no turning back.

It sounds as if she’s essentially saying to the Greeks and others in Europe, you’ve had a nice time and now it’s payback time.

“That’s right.” She nods calmly. “Yeah.”

And what about their children, who can’t conceivably be held responsible? “Well, hey, parents are responsible, right? So parents have to pay their tax.”

That fits entirely with the strict language she used when I interviewed her in August:

She knows this is a tough sell. “You first have a period [after making cuts] where growth takes a hit and goes negative”—and with that come unavoidable human costs in lost jobs and social services. Political feuding over controversial cuts will only make the pain worse. How should ordinary people cope? She pauses. “It takes courage.”

What are the implications of this tough stance:

Hypothetically, should Germany refuse to loosen the terms of its loans to Greece, the IMF could offer a bit of rope on its loans to Greece that would allow a left-wing Greek government to save face without upsetting the eurocart. But. as those of us who have followed her closely expected, Lagarde has unequivocally squashed that possibility in her remarks tonight.

Read the whole post here.

Europe’s constitutional literalism

By , 5 November, 2011, No Comment

Some frustrated words about the state of European political economy:

What we have, in other words, is a meta-debate about whether policy options are permissible, instead of a debate about whether they are sound. A debate in which what is permissible is defined narrowly, as whatever is specifically ‘foreseen’ in documents written years ago, instead of broadly, as whatever those documents do not explicitly forbid. And a debate in which it is hard to avoid the conclusion that policy options are being construed as impossible because they are politically unpalatable to the people who would have to carry them out.

More here.

First Thoughts on the Eurozone Summit

By , 27 October, 2011, No Comment

Burning a bit of midnight oil – a post up at Foreign Exchange on the eurozone summit and its results. Really short version: ‘It is hard not to see a game of hot potato at play here which eventually has to come back to the ECB.’

Read the whole post here.

It Takes Courage: Christine Lagarde at the IMF

By , 24 August, 2011, No Comment

I’ve written the cover story of the next issue (dated September 12) of Forbes, a profile of Christine Lagarde, the new head of the IMF. This is Forbes’ annual Power Women issue, containing the magazine’s ranking of the world’s 100 most powerful women. Lagarde comes in at #9.

Here’s a snippet of my piece:

Not a moment too soon, given a world in financial turmoil and an IMF shaken to its core by the scandal of her predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned over allegations of sexual assault in May. A moderate Socialist, DSK pushed for lenient fiscal policies and stringent financial regulations and opposed austerity programs in beleaguered euro zone economies like Ireland, Portugal and Greece. Lagarde, an unabashed free marketer, takes a much flintier approach to the crisis. It’s time, she says, to return the IMF to its roots, “that fiscal consolidation line, which I think is right.”

She knows this is a tough sell. “You first have a period [after making cuts] where growth takes a hit and goes negative”—and with that come unavoidable human costs in lost jobs and social services. Political feuding over controversial cuts will only make the pain worse. How should ordinary people cope? She pauses. “It takes courage.”

Read the whole story (and watch some video from my interview with Lagarde) here.

Gordon Brown, After the Fall

By , 15 December, 2010, No Comment

A post at Foreign Exchange on a Gordon Brown lecture/book launch I attended yesterday at NYU:

The basic thrust of the book is that financial reform laws in individual countries are irrelevant as tools against a future crisis, because they simply provide incentives to firms to take their riskier business elsewhere. Instead, the book pushes for formal regulatory coordination and essentially, for expanded global governance. It is not an explicitly left-wing argument, as Brown’s vision of global coordination includes a completed Doha Round and a plea for international institutions to prod China into speeding up its push for more consumer spending. [During his talk, Brown clarified this point–essentially he thinks the recent five year plan can be a two year plan if Beijing wants it to be.] My take having read the first section and skimmed the rest: It’s a pretty good blueprint, but completely unfeasible. It’s also not badly written, as far as books by ex-politicians go. Certainly a relief after the purple prose we got from Blair.

After laying all this out in a short lecture, the former PM took a few questions.

Read the rest.

More on Ireland

By , 30 November, 2010, No Comment

Another quickie Ireland at Foreign Exchange today, this time looking at the politics of the deal with an Irish TD:

Going into the conversation, I was under the impression that Ireland might hope to renegotiate at a lower interest rate after the crisis has stabilized somewhat. Deputy Fleming was determined to disabuse me of this assumption.

Over time, he says, “people will begin to see that the interest rate is not so bad. If the financial situation stabilizes, by year 3 [of the loan period], it may be possible to be raising funds in the bond markets again at a rate that is lower than the rate on offer [in the EU settlement], and we may not have to draw it all down at that rate.” In other words, there’s no plan to renegotiate a better deal in Brussels, but there is a plan to aggressively hack at the deficit domestically, and then leverage the Brussels offer to renegotiate with the bond markets.

For more such optimistic predictions, read the whole thing.

Germany’s Ireland Calculus

By , 29 November, 2010, No Comment

Short post over at Foreign Exchange on Germany and the Irish bailout:

…the Ireland debacle is just the latest episode in an ongoing conversation about Germany’s place within the eurozone, about the German public’s frustration with cleaning up after its weaker neighbors and about the frustration of other major EU players with German intransigence.

Here’s the question: is this particular incident (the threat to gauge the bond markets to appease to German public followed by a five year compromise that spares the bondholders with promises of stricter rules in the future), a victory over the Germans, or a victory for them? was Angela Merkel made to compromise, or was she bluffing all along? I’m guessing it’s the latter…

Go read the rest.

Germany’s Radical Center

By , 7 October, 2010, No Comment

I’ve been off the blogs of late because of a Very Exciting Project that I’ll discuss when it’s ready. But I’m back, with a post on Foreign Exchange about the so-called German miracle:

The econo-world has been abuzz about Germany because the country has done a remarkable job outperforming its first world peers as it emerges from the Great Recession. Last quarter, it went on a 9% growth rampage. This year, it’s expected to grow over 3%, compared with less than 2% for the most of the developed world. When econo-wonks process those stats, they try to claim the success story as a victory for their preferred models, while constructing any downsides as failures of the other side. They are wrong to do so.

Instead, the argument I make in the post is that the German model is a happy historical accident. And as you may know, I enjoy arguing that history matters. But I also resist the notion that history is everything. So while I think it’s important to understand the present-day German economy as a product of its history, I don’t the like the argument–which smart people still make–that present-day Germany should make its decisions about the future on the basis of some guilt about its past.