The Great Debate UK

from MacroScope:

Political economy and the euro

The reality of  'political economy'  is something that irritates many economists -- the "purists", if you like. The political element is impossible to model;  it often flies in the face of  textbook economics;  and democratic decision-making and backroom horse trading can be notoriously difficult to predict and painfully slow.  And political economy is all pervasive in 2010 -- Barack Obama's proposals to rein in the banks is rooted in public outrage; reading China's monetary and currency policies is like Kremlinology; capital curbs being introduced in Brazil and elsewhere aim to prevent market overshoot; and British budgetary policies are becoming the political football ahead of this spring's UK election. The list is long, the outcomes uncertain, the market risk high.

But nowhere is this more apparent than in well-worn arguments over the validity and future of Europe's single currency -- the new milennium's posterchild for political economy.

For many, the euro simply should never have happened --  it thumbed a nose at the belief that all things good come from free financial markets; it removed monetary safety valves for member countries out of sync with their bigger neighbours and put the cart before the horse with monetary union ahead of fiscal policy integration. But the sheer political determination to finish the European's single market project, stop beggar-thy-neighbour currency devaluations and face down erratic currency trading meant the  currency was born and has thrived for 11 years.

Now the budgetary and bond market upheaval currently afflicting euro member Greece and stalking  Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy has reawakened the whole debate. "Will the euro survive?" seems a legitimate question once again.

from MacroScope:

The euro gets a warning shot of Greek fire

Juergen Stark , Germany's ECB executive board member, is well known as a true believer in tight fiscal discipline, so his reported comments in Italy's Il Sole 24 Ore about not bailing Greece out of its financial difficulties are not out of character. But the market reaction must have at least given pause for thought to EU leaders wondering how far to go in coddling their wayward child.

Within moments of Stark's reported musings that markets were "deluding themselves" if they thought member states would "put their hands in their wallets to save Greece", hitting the foreign exchange rooms, the euro was on a tumble.  It hit a low of $1.4285 from a day's high of $1.4371 -- which doesn't sound like a lot, but is, especially over a very short period of time.

from The Great Debate:

Global rebalancing to weaken dollar, quietly

-- Neal Kimberley is an FX market analyst for Reuters. The opinions expressed are his own --forex

Twenty-four years ago, major nations called for depreciation of the dollar to rebalance the global economy. Now, as another effort at rebalancing looms, the dollar will again bear the brunt -- though officials will try to ensure its fall is less dramatic this time.

from The Great Debate:

Don’t cry for the dollar, yet

agnes1-- Agnes T. Crane is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are her own --

It looks bad for the dollar, but looks can be deceiving.

Its sharp decline in the last week has pushed the euro to its highest level in a year and reignited fears that there's only one place for the dollar to go, and that's down.

Rhetoric from influential investors like Warren Buffett as well as big foreign buyers of U.S. debt like China and Russia has fed that sense of doom.

Latvia needs more help to preserve euro peg

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paul-taylorLatvia needs more support from the European Union if it is to preserve its currency peg to the euro and avert a chain reaction of devaluations and bankruptcies around the Baltic and beyond.

The Latvian government and central bank are taking extreme measures to maintain a currency board linking the lat with the single European currency, hoping to steer the former Soviet republic into the safe haven of the euro zone in 2012.

Ireland’s euro pain

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REUTERS– Margaret Doyle is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own –

LONDON, April 9 (Reuters) – Ireland’s budget is painful, but insufficient.
Brian Lenihan, the finance minister, is taking an additional 3.25 billion euros out of the economy each year, largely in higher taxes. But that will simply trim the budget deficit to 10.75 percent of national income. The 3 percent eurozone target is a distant dream.

Few British cheers for euro amid crisis

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paul-taylorPaul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The financial crisis has rallied support for euro adoption in many European countries outside the currency bloc, yet in Britain the discussion is so far confined to a few voices among the policy elite.

The politics of the issue remain as fraught as ever, and Britons appear no more willing to lose monetary sovereignty in a recession than they were in the boom years.

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