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Why the euro?

More than three years have passed since the euro crisis erupted. Or four, or five depending on where one wants to start counting. For a currency that has been around for not more than twelve years, the crisis has lasted long enough to make people sick of it already. Alas, reality often defies logic.

I spent the previous month in Greece and had the chance to talk with various people, family and friends, older and younger, richer and poorer, more and less educated, employed and unemployed. Naturally, it is nowadays impossible to have any discussion in Greece that will not relate to the crisis, as there is no facet of people’s lives that has been left unaffected by it. The sad realization I have come to after all these talks, is that most Greeks remain strangely attached to the euro, still fond of it and fearful of a return to the drachma. The pattern is no different among the other countries embroiled in the euro crisis.

I can understand to some extent where this stance comes from. The media have done a terrible job so far in analyzing the crisis and its origins, but a very good job in reminding the people what “terrible” events would befall upon them if they chose any other way than the one set out against their will and interests. Strangely, the “doom” motif has not changed even after all these terrible events took place despite the efforts to avoid them. These guys would have you believe that a drowned person may drown again.

But people need more often than not to analyze things for themselves and show little trust to those who have an agenda of their own. For this reason, I wanted to post a brief reminder of what the euro has delivered so far, addressed to all those Greeks, Spaniards, Cypriots, Portuguese and Irish who day after day have to deal with conditions that are no better than the previous day’s:

– The economic situation has been at its worst shape for at least a generation, with unemployment, growth and poverty rates not seen in any other developed country around the world for decades. I guess there is no need to elaborate further on that.

– The political situation has been most unstable, with weak governments and extremist movements and parties, who rule against the interests of the people and according to the will (and vice) of foreign lackeys. The current lack of representation in national parliaments has only been surpassed in times of dictatorship.

– Basic social services like health and education, services of low cost and extremely high societal value in objective terms are improperly funded and developed. Much needed infrastructure work is neglected or abandoned. The social contract is broken, the safety nets are torn and the European social model forgotten.

– Thousands of people, most often young and talented are fleeing their home countries in search of a better future, or any future abroad. The quality of the population declines along with its quantity. How can the future be better than the past if this trend continues?

– You were promised that the euro would lead to a gradual convergence of wages and living standards with the other, more advanced European countries. Currently, there is no idea of how wide the ongoing divergence is going to be.

– Your natural resources, your homes, your businesses, public and private are put up for sale at subpar prices to foreign interests. You are fast becoming a class of (unemployed) workers with no stake and no control in your own country’s wealth. You are now owned.

– And lastly, you are no longer in control of your lives. Perhaps you haven’t had the best representation in the last decades, but at least you were in control of your common fate, whether good or bad. You used to be a sovereign people, independent and respectable. You have now surrendered this power to an exclusive Clique based far away in Frankfurt, Berlin and Washington. Does this sound as a New Normal that you ought to accept?

A time comes when you have to realize that the torment will go on for as long as you don’t seize again control of your lives. A time comes when you must realize that the euro is not the goal but the root of all your problems. You need to take it as a given that the Clique will keep juggling with your life, serving you lies and feeding on your misery for as long as they see fit to their interests. They will do anything to keep you in the euro, yet they will never accept in making it your currency as much as it is theirs.

For the crisis to be solved, it is a necessary condition that you gave up hope of a “coordinated”, “equitable”, “growth-oriented”, “European” solution to this crisis. This is just a mirage. It is the oasis you will never reach. The crisis will be solved only when you decide to put your own interests first. A return to a national currency will be in no way similar to what the media describe. Open your mind, get critical and demand the right to have back your own currency, instead of being obliged to use a currency that you do not possess. Being weak in a group of strong will not make you strong. Strength comes only from within, it cannot be borrowed and it cannot be granted. It is high time you shut the door behind you and said goodbye to a currency and a political project that have evidently failed in all their promises.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Why the euro?

  1. Interesting! After 3 years of ‘positive thinking’, I came to a similar conclusion a couple of weeks ago.

    http://klauskastner.blogspot.co.at/2013/08/seeing-erred-ways-of-my-thinking-11.html

    Posted by Klaus Kastner (@kleingut) | August 12, 2013, 07:44
    • Dearest Klaus, nice to have you back!

      I have not read Henkel’s book, so I may be taking some things out of context here, but from your summary I think I can understand what the gist of the book is.

      I tend to disagree with analyses and explanations of the origins of the euro crisis that use cultural differences as a starting point. Pretty much everyone now agrees that the euro suffers from structural flaws, flaws which in my opinion would cause a crisis regardless of which or how many countries were included in the eurozone. Could the Netherlands share the euro only with Germany? Could Greece share it with Italy? Could Slovakia share it with the Czech Republic? I think no two countries (let alone more) could ever share a currency like the euro, because given enough time the same balance-of-payments gaps would open, the same bubbles would form, the same structural flaws would be exposed and the same crisis would occur. To draw a parallel, one cannot expect all runners in a marathon to pass the finish line at the same time, and that does not depend on the country of origin of the runners. For this reason, I consider that the scenario of a euro split into a Northern Euro and a Southern Euro would be as nonsensical as keeping the eurozone as it is.

      But I do agree of course with Henkel that the situation in the eurozone cannot go on like this anymore and that something has to change. I used to believe that fixing the euro was indeed possible and that the European Union under pressure from the public and the markets would ultimately be forced to come to a solution. I was maybe late to realise that this was just wishful thinking. There is nothing happening at the moment that shows that we are getting any closer to a fair, sensible solution to the crisis. Only thing left to long for is thus the dissolution of the currency union. It was never really a true union anyway. I hope this time will be soon, soon enough. I want my home country to stand on its feet again and I also want the “accounts payable” that you describe in your post to be finally settled. They are long overdue.

      Posted by 2mtm | August 13, 2013, 22:43
      • I guess you are one of the few who doesn’t immediately see a red flag when the name Henkel shows up. I know many of Henkel’s views are very provocative but this book isn’t so much about his views. It is simply the condensed summary of actions taken and words said by politicians in the last 3 years, and that is the scary part. In the link below I explained the reasoning behind my article. Other than that, I went through a similar process as you: from realistic optimism to wishful thinking and ending up with reality.

        http://klauskastner.blogspot.co.at/2013/08/seeing-erred-ways-of-my-thinking-11a.html

        Posted by Klaus Kastner (@kleingut) | August 14, 2013, 19:19

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