Eurozone: in anticipation of trouble
If Germany, France and Italy did not find a way to lift the European economy afloat, the euro is doomed. Just a few years ago, the leaders of the euro area thought that after the storm finally came clear days. Due to the promises of Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, to “do everything possible” to maintain currency, confidence has returned to the continent. It seemed as growth resumed, albeit at a slow pace. Distressed peripheral countries were restored after the adoption of the rescue and painful measures to reduce the budget deficit and improving the competitiveness of the programs. Unemployment, particularly among young people, remained extremely high, but at least it was reduced in most countries. Spreads on bonds fell sharply against the background of the fact that the financial markets have ceased to believe in the euro disintegration. It was an illusion. In recent years the euro area gave the boat again to flow. In the second quarter of their combined GDP stagnating in Italy again he slipped into a clear recession, French GDP remained unchanged, and even mighty Germany was faced with an unexpectedly strong decline in performance. The figures for the third quarter look anxious, partly because of the growth in the Eurozone will slow down even more because of Western sanctions against Russia. At the same time, inflation dropped to a dangerously low level, up to about 0.4%, well below the target of 2%, the European Central Bank. Because of this, there are fears that the euro area as a whole could become a victim of extensive deflation. The yield on German bonds is less than 1% – another harbinger of falling prices. The euro zone is in stark contrast with the United States and Britain, whose economy has been experiencing steady growth.
The fact that four years ago began as a banking crisis has turned into a crisis of growth, which now covers three major economies. Germany is teetering on the brink of recession. France gripped by stagnation. Italy’s GDP barely exceeds the level achieved at the input of the single currency 15 years ago. Since the share of these three countries account for two-thirds of the GDP of the Eurozone, growth in countries such as Spain and the Netherlands, can not compensate for their lethargy. The root causes of the new Europe of adversity are three very familiar and interrelated problems. The first – the lack of political leaders with courage and determination, which are necessary for the implementation of structural reforms to enhance competitiveness and, ultimately, the resumption of growth: large country lost two years, bought the promise of Mr. Draghi, to do “everything possible”. The second – the public is not sure of the acute need for radical change. And the third problem: despite the efforts of Mr. Draghi, the monetary and fiscal conditions are too stringent and restrict growth, which complicates the implementation of structural reforms.
In the euro area are noticeably different manifestations of these problems. But the most acute problems of all three appear in France. Recently, its president, Socialist Fransua Olland was forced to change the composition of the government to remove it from the Arno Monteburga that, despite the post of minister of economy, persistently criticized the current policy. Mr Hollande, who became president in 2012 on a promise of cloudless future, can hardly be called a reformer, like Thatcher. But after March, he appointed Manuel Valls Prime Minister, at least he has implemented the principles of public spending cuts, tax cuts and structural reforms. In theory, a new and more cohesive government might succeed, but public opinion is not ready for this. Mr Hollande is not just unpopular; in contrast to the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who led a strong case for tough reforms (still held), the French president was unable to convince voters that the pathological changes, including a reduction in the state budget, are inevitable. Instead, Mr. Monteburg and his team make a tempting offer: if the Eurozone will cancel the existing rules and allow an increase in the budget deficit and government spending, painful reforms will no longer be needed as the economy miraculously yourself get out of a dangerous situation.
Mr. Monteburg rights with respect to the third European problems: excessive austerity, mainly carried out in the continent Germany. At the annual economic meeting in Jackson Hole, Mr. Draghi implicitly admitted that in the euro area held too tight fiscal and monetary policy. He hinted that he was in favor of quantitative easing, and used by America and Britain and called to ensure that fiscal policy is more conducive to stimulate growth – a message that was clearly addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. That’s all it strongly insists on the respect of budgetary discipline in the euro area, just as the German Bundesbank most opposed to quantitative easing.
Angie, you’ve never tried
Despite the general gloom, it should be possible for the negotiations. If Mr. Hollande and Mr. Renzi will be able to show a sincere desire to carry out structural reforms, Ms. Merkel must agree on a less tight fiscal policy (including an increase in public investment in Germany) and a looser monetary policy. Close your eyes and imagine how these three leaders are working with the European Commission on the completion of the single market and the promotion of trade deals with the United States. Unfortunately, in reality, Ms. Merkel is no particular reason to believe France or Italy, when the external pressure exerted on them weakened, they immediately abandoned the commitment to reform. She also promoted Jean-Claude Juncker, to do nothing of the candidate, as president of the European Commission. So, it will be difficult. But without a new push by the European leaders will not resume growth, and deflation is restored. Japan experienced a lost decade in the 1990s., And is still struggling with the consequences. But unlike Japan, Europe is not a single and united country. If monetary union will bring only stagnation, unemployment and deflation, some people in the end will vote for an exit from the Eurozone. Due to the promise of Mr. Draghi set the lower limit of the national debt, backed the market risk related to the fact that financial pressure can cause the collapse. However, the political risk that one or more countries decide to abandon the single currency is constantly increasing. The euro crisis is not over, he was waiting on the horizon.
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