Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Brilliant socio-economic analysis but I don't find your solution of a monetary "reset" convincing. The precedent of one reset will create continuing speculation about the next with all sorts of destructive behaviours designed to profit from, and avoid, the consequences of it. We will simply have recurring internal devaluation crises. Monetary "reform" doesn't address structural issues.

You are right to focus on the comparative economic advantages of the core relative to the periphery but a solution of that problem at the level of trade associations (the German model) or entrepreneurial innovation (the Anglo model) will not be sufficient. There are economies of scale and benefits of social cohesion, tradition, ideology and accumulated capital which will be almost impossible to overcome.

The larger problem is that we have a fractured political system (at the national level) seeking to managed and increasingly globalism and integrated economic system. The German polity will manage in the German interest, and not necessarily in the best interests of the EU as a while. Appeals to German dependency on the welfare of the periphery will only get you so far.  They are just that: appeals to altruism or a larger vision - when national policy is unavoidably dominated by short term and self interested considerations.

There is currently no effective way in which the collective interests of the EU periphery - or even the rest of the EU versus Germany -  can be articulated through the EU political system. The Commission, Parliament and other EU institutions are simply too weak for that, and have, in any case, been effectively sidelined by a German dominated Council.

A threat to isolate Germany by excluding it from the EU/Eurozone may help to highlight to imbalance of benefits which Member states currently obtain from the Euro/Single market, but there is currently no political will to do so.  Everyone (including Sarkozy) is currying favour from (and seeking to emulate) the German model. Ireland, with a positive balance of trade, may eventually actually succeed and thus create a myth that it is possible for everyone to be like Germany.

I don't see any short cut solutions (such as internal devaluations) happening whatever their theoretical attractions. The only solution is a much stronger European demos and set of institutions capable of governing in the best interests of all, and not just in the interests of Germany and a few stronger members. But at the moment our EPP Governments are leading us in the opposite direction. We are talking 20 year cycles here, and it may take that long for a historic reassertion of the European Ideal after every other solution has been tried and failed.

At the moment there is zero common cause being made by (say) Spain, Ireland, Latvia, Greece. Until an alternative non-German dominated vision of the EU can gain the ascendency we will continue to see the austerity and non-creative social destruction we see now.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 08:00:16 AM EST

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