Euro Was Troubled From Birth, Experts Say
In the 1990s, as they prepared to launch the euro, the continent’s political leaders said they couldn’t imagine a Europe without Athens or go forward without the glory of Rome.
While some finance ministers and many economists around the continent worried whether the fiscal policies and economic cultures of more than a dozen countries could be united under one currency, politicians answered forcefully - even poetically. The divisions of the past were past, they argued; a single currency would bind a continent that so often had been torn by war.
Today, as Greece seems likely to leave the euro - and with Ireland, Italy and even France deep in debt and hampered by the single currency - Europe’s bold fiscal experiment faces its gravest crisis yet. But all these problems were predictable: From its inception, the move to the euro was not as much about money as about political unity and guarding against another European conflict. The economics were always known to be, at best, difficult.
The financial crisis has erased those attempts at unity, said European political expert Richard Whitman of the University of Kent in England.
“This first cut has released all the old demons,” Whitman said. “We’re back to calling the Greeks lazy, the Italians shady, the British disconnected, and the Germans bent on domination. It didn’t take long, did it?”