The Great Debate UK

German elections bring forward a possible stalemate situation for EMU

-

-Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-

Next month’s UK general election is not the only one of significance in Europe. There is the possibility that the German regional elections in North Rhine-Westphalia on May 9 could result in the end of the CDU/FDP government’s majority in the upper house of parliament.

While this would not alter Angela Merkel’s status as Chancellor, lessened support would make it more difficult for her to implement planned tax cuts and health services reforms. Fear that she may lose support in NRW is currently delaying the transfer of a German loan to Greece. In turn this means the markets are bracing themselves for a possible default in Greece; an event which could change the present composition of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union.

German popular opinion is firmly set against the notion of providing loans to Greece; although Germany as the largest EU economy is obliged to lend around 8.4 billion euros to Greece very soon to help the latter avoid default. While the election in NRW will not be fought on the subject of Greece it does give an added edge to concerns about lack of fiscal manoeuvrability in the region.

from Global News Journal:

If Greece’s debt dam breaks, who gets wet?

The 16 countries that share the euro single currency have agreed they will help Greece out if it needs. So far so good. But only now is the nitty-gritty of how member states will go about paying for their contributions being hammered out. And suddenly things are getting a little complicated.

Italy announced on Tuesday it would have to issue government bonds -- known as BTPs --  to raise funds for its part in any Greek assistance. 

What’s next in EMU after Greece deal?

Photo
-

Jane Foley-Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-

The European Union has finally agreed that an Economic and Monetary Union member country in serious fiscal difficulties will be able to receive bi-lateral assistance from its Eurozone partners as well as draw support from the International Monetary Fund.

from Global News Journal:

Can a European diplomatic service really work?

As experiments in political unity go, Europe's External Action Service takes some beating.

The budding diplomatic corps of the European Union, with a name that sounds like an off-shoot of Britain's SAS, is supposed to represent the unified interests of the EU's 27 member states to the rest of the world.

from Global News Journal:

EU to tackle gender pay inequality

By Sangeeta Shastry

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding

Men are still paid more than women in Europe but the European Union is promising to narrow the gap.

The executive European Commission set out its plans to address the pay gap between men and women at a news conference to coincide with International Women's Day, saying women were on average earning only 82 percent of male rates in the EU.

The spoils of EU reform

Photo
-

eu- Alain Délétroz is Vice President Europe at the International Crisis Group, www.crisisgroup.org. The opinions expressed are his own. -

There is a sumptuous feast happening in Brussels, but some are better fed than others. What to many may seem an indigestible alphabet soup of new EU institutions dealing with foreign policy after the Lisbon treaty, is actually a smorgasbord of patronage, favour and influence.

from The Great Debate:

Watch banks for clues on Greece

-- James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. --

As odd as it sounds, concerns about the effects of a euro zone sovereign crisis on Europe's still poorly capitalized banks may prove to be the tipping point that leads to a swifter bailout of Greece.

While discussion of contagion may seem very 2008, the problems with Greece, which faces a huge fiscal deficit, are becoming tougher for euro zone authorities to leave uninsured.

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.

from Global News Journal:

Does Greece really deserve such a market pummelling?

So there's no question Greece has work to do to improve its bookkeeping.

Not only must it get spending in check,  but it needs to be a bit more honest about where its finances stand in the first place. After all, it's not often an EU country says one month that its budget deficit is a little over three percent of GDP and admits a few weeks later that, oh dear, it's actually nearer 13 percent.

Yet it's hard not to have a little sympathy for Greece at the same time.

Its government bonds have been hammered and the price it has to pay to finance its debt has soared as financial markets have relentlessly taken it to task over the past six weeks for its profligacy.

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.

  •