Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Europe’s Abysmal Crisis Management

by Clive Crook


July 4, 2012

I don’t share financial markets’ enthusiasm for the European Union’s latest moves to stabilize the euro area, and I don’t expect the thrill to last long. Sure, last week’s summit made some progress: It wasn’t quite stasis as usual. Yet one thing hasn’t changed: EU governments keep making the same basic error.

Their signature mistake is to conflate three distinct tasks, each requiring action with different degrees of urgency. You know the saying, first things first? I’m told it’s useful in emergencies. You know, before clearing wreckage from the highway, get the injured out of the cars, that sort of idea.

The pile-up in the euro area may be complicated, but the right sequence for dealing with it isn’t. First, stem the crisis of confidence that is pushing otherwise solvent governments into insolvency. Second, make repairs to the fiscal and financial system so the chances of another crisis are reduced. Third, address the underlying causes of the euro area’s difficulties -- namely, the single currency itself.

The EU leaders keep trying to link all three together, making it likely they will fail three times over.


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