FT Alphaville has posted some good comments by JP Morgan analysts on some of the big macro questions regarding Europe. I think these two are particularly pertinent:
• Why has neither Greece nor Germany left EMU, yet? Or even, why did they ever get in? The crisis has revealed the cost of giving up one’s currency. Resolution requires massive deflation in the periphery and massive funding from the core. The reason countries joined into EMU and have not (yet) left is that monetary union was planned as the first step towards a political union –– a US of E. The cost of abandoning EMU is not merely related to capital flight and creation of a new currency, but is paramount to ditching European integration, and moving back to the bad old days of a divided and quarrelsome Europe. EMU members will likely do everything they can to keep the union together, even as they will need more crises to push them that way.
• Why has the euro not collapsed, yet, given a recession and EMU break-up risk? The EMU periphery cannot devalue against the core, but would greatly benefit from a drop in the euro. The answer is likely that currencies are relative prices, and the fiscal situation in the US, UK, and Japan is as bad as in the Euro area, even as the latter has problems with internal funding. Each of these four currencies has fallen dramatically against the smaller G10 countries that are in better shape (CAD, CHF, AUD, NOK). The Euro area also has no external deficit, and funding problems may have led to capital repatriation, supporting the euro.
Regulars know the answers here, but I think it’s incredibly important that we continue to emphasize one major point here – Europe’s crisis is a currency crisis. All of the other problems are an extension of this. And JPM has it dead right. It’s US of Europe (creating currency sovereignty) or bust! The sooner they understand this the sooner we’ll fix this darn problem….
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.