You can lie to taxpayers or you can lie to creditors, European authorities are learning, but doing both at the same time is very hard.
The proposed policy that current senior creditors to troubled states will not face losses on their loans but future private lenders will be forced to share in losses with taxpayers is so irrational, so bound to fail that it falls out of the realm of economics and into the ambit of brain injury.
European Union member states will this week hold a summit at which they will create a permanent fund to lend to troubled members under co-called strict conditions of fiscal responsibility.
At the very same time, leaders of the 27-country European Union will sign on to a pronouncement by euro zone finance ministers saying that private lenders will have to share the pain, on a case-by-case basis, of any sovereign debt restructuring after 2013.
So let’s recap, because this is truly bizarre: Lenders to Ireland or the other troubled states won’t take a hit now but if they stick around until 2013 then they will take losses along with the taxpayers. Oh yeah, and the current round of bailouts are aimed at seeing Ireland and Greece through the next couple of years, at which point it will become extremely dangerous to lend to them, as their economies will have shrunk, their debt burdens bloomed and private lenders will be on the hook.