Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Where the eurozone crisis may go from here

by Lorenzo Bini Smaghi

Financial Times

September 12, 2012

With its decision of September 6 the European Central Bank has taken a large part of the “convertibility risk”, i.e. the risk of a break-up of the eurozone, off the table. Spreads have come down substantially in the following days, especially in Spain and Italy. Today’s decision by the German constitutional court to allow ratification of the bailout programmes should see those spreads come down further still.

The question now is whether countries will decide to activate the ECB’s intervention.

Requesting such programs entails costs and benefits.

The cost is mainly political, due to the stigma attached to any type of IMF or EU support. By asking for support, a government implicitly admits that its previous policies have not succeeded in convincing the markets. The negotiation of an adjustment program and the regular monitoring by the so-called troika (IMF-EU-ECB) is considered to entail a loss of sovereignty. Any government accepting intervention also fears losing political support. And the tougher the conditions attached to a programme, the higher the political cost associated with it.


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