Monday, May 30, 2011

Default, Get Thee From My Euroland House

by Irwin Stelzer

Wall Street Journal

May 30, 2011

How do I save thee? Let me count the ways. As euro-zone policy-maker-in-chief, I can force you to sell off some of your assets. But in the absence of a land registry you don't have clear title to those assets, which might make potential buyers squeamish. Worse still, your trade unions might be upset, and riot or be unwilling to work efficiently for a private-sector buyer.

Besides, you only want to sell minority interests, and who wants to partner with a government that has such novel methods of keeping its books? Anyhow, asset sales cannot be arranged in time to get you the cash you need quickly enough.

I might once again pass the collection plate among my friends. But they seem reluctant to contribute again, especially since Greece's opposition New Democracy party has announced it will not support any new spending cuts, and it is clear to the richer countries that this is not the last time I would be asking them to be generous. After all, they are elected politicians, and their taxpayers are not happy picking up the bill for your past profligacy, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finland's politicians have already discovered.


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