The Eurozone Endgame Will Begin in Greece
The June summit of the eurozone was initially trumpeted as a decisive step towards resolving the crisis. Italy and Spain won agreement to allow European institutions to recapitalise banks and purchase sovereign debt directly.
But once financial markets had a closer look, it became clear that little of substance had been achieved, and the borrowing costs of Italy and Spain again approached forbidding heights. Meanwhile the Spanish government has imposed fresh austerity, breaking its promises to the electorate. And unemployment in the eurozone continues to rise, exceeding 11% on average.
It is now a fair guess that the European Monetary Union (or the eurozone) has crossed the Rubicon and is heading towards breakup or collapse. In the periphery of Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain, there is despair at the ever-deepening recession. In France and Italy there is burgeoning opposition to long-term austerity. In Germany there is frustration at feckless southerners.
Disintegration is likely to take a turn for the worse in 2013, as a global slump is in the offing. The large economies of Europe, including the UK, are entering recession largely due to austerity policies. The US economy is veering towards negative territory, as Barack Obama’s expansionary policies were never vigorous enough. China is facing a hard landing that will force a re-examination of its growth strategy. The international financial system, meanwhile, remains weak and unreformed.