The worst is over for the euro zone? Shh! Stop saying that!

October 19, 2012

Folklore and modern horror are replete with tales of people summoning  ghosts by recanting their name or chanting a particular phrase. Centuries ago there was Bloody Mary. The 1980s brought us the Evil Dead trilogy and Beetlejuice, while Candyman appeared in the 90s.

And in the 21st century there is the euro zone debt crisis, conjured repeatedly by the phrase from Europe’s leaders, “The worst is over,” and variations thereof.

French President Francois Hollande was the latest to tempt the crisis apparition on Wednesday night:

Tonight, I have the confirmation that the worst is behind us.

Economic nightmares have followed for policymakers who’ve made similar statements in the past.

In April, European Central Bank board member Joerg Asmussen said, “the worst of the crisis seems to be over,” shortly before Spanish government borrowing costs started soaring to new heights.

In March, his boss, Mario Draghi, told the world: “The worst is over, but risks remain,” and France and Germany’s finance ministers grouped together to declare, “We can say that the worst is behind us, but we cannot relax our efforts.”

Even respected ex-ECB chief economist Otmar Issing flirted with dark forces this January by saying: “I think the peak of the crisis is behind us because since all the problems became public, a lot has changed, a lot has been done.”

In January 2011, maybe knowing something we didn’t, then-French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde revealed“I think euro zone has turned the corner.”

Perhaps the first to invoke the curse was Juergen Stark in July 2010, then the ECB’s chief economist, saying of the market turmoil from the fledgling debt crisis: “It seems the worst is over.”

Often, horror films in a series become worse with each sequel, becoming messier with each tired return to a franchise.

The euro zone debt crisis — a particularly depressing horror with real and terrible consequences for many of its citizens — appears to hold true to that.

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