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The Euro Crisis – It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

Interesting note here from Bridgewater on the Euro crisis (via ValueWalk).  They cite 5 reasons why the Euro crisis isn’t over:

1) Financial institution stress tests could raise worries about specific banks

2) Plans for dealing with problematic banks could lead to Cyprus type situation

3) Portugal’s debts problem signals worries for other countries as well

4) France’s continuing debt build up could cause serious problems

5) International attention to all these problems could exacerbate the issues.

They go on to detail several core problems in Europe.  I’ve maintained a similar message in recent years though stated a bit more simplistically.  In my opinion, the single currency system remains unworkable because it has no rebalancing mechanism.  Any single currency system like the Euro or the Dollar will create trade imbalances (for its users – the states in the USA and the countries in Europe).  If those trade imbalances are not rebalanced by a federal tax that redistributes funds then the heavy lifting results in deflationary wage and price rebalancing.  Obviously, there can be no currency rebalancing because they all use the same currency.  So we get what’s going on in places like the periphery of Europe where a crushing deflation is ravaging the economy.

Now, I know “redistribution” is a dirty word, but when you lock yourself into a currency union you have to realize what you’re signing up for and the basic math behind such an arrangement.  And the math in Europe remains ugly.  The debt outstanding in many of these peripheral countries is not declining relative to GDP because the growth in the peripheral countries is not outpacing the rate of debt increase.  So we’re actually seeing debt:GDP levels increase despite austerity.  From a political perspective, this is a disaster because improvement in these ratios is central to the sustainability of the ECB’s bond buying programs.  And yes, that bond buying program is about the only thing holding the Euro together at this point.

The bottom line is, Europe isn’t fixed until the single currency is either broken up or built up into a full union with a proper form of redistribution as exists in the USA (yes, poor states regularly get more federal funding than they pay into the system and that keeps them from turning into Greece).  Until then, it ain’t over til it’s over!

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