Sérfræðingar um framtið evrunnar: Hún á enga

G. Tómas Gunnarsson skrifar

Á vefsvæði Breska blaðsins The Independent má í dag finna stutt álit ýmissa hagfræðinga og stjórnmálamanna um framtíð eurosins, undir fyrirsögninni: “The experts’ view on the euro’s future: it doesn’t have one.”

Álitin eru fengin úr greinum og viðtölum sem finna má í blaðinu (en ég gat ekki fundið á vefsvæðinu) við þekkta hagfræðinga og stjórnmálamenn. Flestir þeirra voru svartsýnir á framtíð eurosvæðisins, þó að þeir telji að Grikklandskrísan verði því ekki að falli. Þeir virðast telja hinn nýja “Mánudagssáttmála” (EFC – European Fiscal Compact) “Sambandsins” illframkvæmanlegan. Þeir tala um of harðan niðurskurð, sem hamli vexti og ekkert hafi verið gert til að leysa jafnvægis og samkeppnisvanda innan myntbandalagsins.

Til lengri tíma litið sáu “sérfræðingarnir” fyrir sér minna eurosvæði með Þýskaland sem miðpunkt, en lönd eins og Grikkland, Portúgal, Ítalíu og Írland utan við.

Eina sterka rödd bjartsýni úr hópi álitsgjafanna kom frá Olli Rehn, eurokommissar “Sambandsins”, það kemur ef til vill lítið á óvart.

En hér koma stutt sýnishorn úr því sem haft er eftir “sérfræðingunum”:

The euro zone is a slow-motion train wreck. Not only Greece, other countries as well are insolvent. There’s a 50 per cent probability that over the next three to five years the euro zone will break up. Not all the members are able to stay. Greece and maybe Portugal may exit the euro zone – Greece within the next 12 months. Portugal may take a while longer. This doesn’t look like a G20 world it looks like a G-Zero world because there is no agreement on global imbalances, how to change the international monetary system, international trade, banking regulation, on all the fundamental issues.

– Nouriel Roubini, prófessor í hagfræði, a.k.a. Dr. Doom, a.k.a. Permabear

The fundamental problem that has not been addressed is that there is no growth plan for Greece. Even if you give them a new loan they have no means of paying it back. The markets seem to have priced in an orderly default.

– Danny Blanchflower, prófessor í hagfræði

The euro cannot survive in its current format. That either means a collapse is inevitable or there needs to be rapid moves to political union. The way I would characterise it is: who tires first? Does the periphery tire of austerity? Does the market tire of buying the debt and demand much higher interest rates? Do the core tire of providing assistance?

I think the euro is fundamentally flawed. Normally good economics is good politics. Good politics is not always good economics. And the euro has been driven by politics from the very beginning. Therefore for the euro to survive it needs the politics to really change. But if it’s left to the economics then the euro will collapse.

– Gerard Lyons, hagfræðingur

In my view in the short term there is the political will to get over the current Greek crisis and the amount of money that the ECB has made available to European banks is helping to avoid another credit crisis.

But the question is what happens later. What people have not realised is that the underlying debt levels of Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland are still too high to be sustainable. This means the pressure won’t go away and that will be the make or break of the euro project.

I also don’t think that the fiscal compact will work at all. The EU, led by Germany, says it will be imposing all sorts of restrictions on what is being spent by eurozone countries but that creates a democratic deficit.

– Vicky Pryce, hagfræðingur

We remain in the acute phase of the crisis; the prospect of a meltdown of the global financial system has not been removed. The trouble is that the cuts in government expenditures that Germany wants to impose on other countries will push Europe into a deflationary debt trap.

Reducing budget deficits will put both wages and profits under downward pressure, the economies will contract, and tax revenues will fall. So the debt burden, which is a ratio of the accumulated debt to the GDP, will actually rise, requiring further budget cuts, setting in motion a vicious circle.

– George Soros, fjárfestir

I don’t think anyone can realistically say that the eurozone will survive with its present membership and the longer the inaction goes on the greater the chance that one or more countries will be forced out.

Anything that leaves Greece with 120 per cent debt to GDP is unsustainable and there are ominous signs for Spain as well.

A policy of austerity alone will not work – especially a policy of austerity which is imposed from abroad and decided upon by judges rather than elected politicians.

– Alistair Darling, fyrrverandi fjármálaráðherra Bretlands

I have a fairly clear view, probably wrong, that in the long run the eurozone will not work. It is not fit for purpose and was possibly the biggest policy mistake since 1945

I think the reason it will not work is not really the crisis we have now but a crisis of competitiveness.

Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal are not competitive enough compared to Germany and I just do not believe that the degree of austerity and deflation required to make them competitive will be politically acceptable.

In the immediate future I think it is possible the eurozone will get through this year – although perhaps not with Greece – because there is such political will behind this venture.

– Lord Lamont, fyrrverandi fjármálaráðherra Breta

The eurozone is fundamentally flawed and can’t work. This is something that is now clear. But it is something that once you are in it is very hard to get out of.

The cleverer architects of the euozone realised that monitory union could not work without complete political union. That is not a disreputable thing to want. The snag is that the people of Europe don’t want it as you see with Greece at the present time. You cannot impose a political union against the wishes of the people – at least in countries which call themselves democracies. If you cannot impose political union then the monitory union is not going to work.

– Nigel Lawson, fyrrverandi fjármálaráðherra Breta

The reality is that too many countries joined the euro in the first place and ultimately without dramatic change they can’t probably survive. But I don’t think that is an issue for this year because the policy makers have ring-fenced the contagion and you wouldn’t get all this staggering amount of fuss about making sure Greece stays in the euro only for them to turn round in two months time and say we’re pulling out.

– Jim O´Neil, stjórnarformaður eignastýringar Goldman Sachs

I don’t think that the eurozone in its present form can survive.

The question then is where you draw the line. I am very clear what the core is: It is Germany, Austria, Finland and Benelux and Denmark. For economic reasons you probably not want France but for political reasons you can’t keep them out. The next question is whether Italy is in or out.

My political view remains that while the German people would fund the recapitalising of their own banks I’m not sure they would hand money to the Italians.

– Lord Ashdown, fyrrverandi formaður Frjálslyndra demókrata

The key over the next few months is the extent to which the eurozone and the ECB can bolster confidence so that the problems that there are in Greece and Portugal don’t spread to Italy and Spain – two countries where the size of the debt and the refinancing and interconnectedness within the European banking system are such that if you end up with a breakdown in confidence it is going to be very difficult to repair.

– David Laws, fyrrverandi aðstoðarfjármálaráðherra Bretlands

Far from being over, I fear the eurozone crisis is this year entering a more chronic, drawn out but equally dangerous phase.

While the bouts of market turmoil which characterised the crisis of last year may have receded – at least for a time – don’t be fooled. The underlying pressures have not gone away. There is still no plan for Greece. And endless summits have still not got to grips with what needs to be done to properly restore market confidence, stop contagion spreading and promote growth.

And look at what is happening to growth, unemployment and debts. The credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s got it right when, in downgrading France and others last month, they said ‘austerity alone risks becoming self-defeating’.

– Ed Balls, “skugga”fjármálaráðherra Bretlands

The eurozone is not going to collapse and I don’t think there will be any departures this year or probably at all. The basic reason for that is that if any eurozone member was allowed to fall out it would have a really damaging effect which nobody wants – not even the strongest economies.

Gradually the eurozone members are putting together a series of measures which combine discipline with support. It’s not finished yet but it’s going in the direction which will prevent breakdown.

My regret is that the only formula that is being employed by most states in Europe is really pressing down heavily on growth.

Everybody sensible knows that without growth deficit reduction will be so far in the distance that it will cease to have any effect as a motive. People in democracies will accept austerity if its undertaken with manifest justice. But if it is undertaken in a punishing way without fairness there is resentment and resistance.

– Neil Kinnock, fyrrverandi meðlimur í framkvæmdastjórn Evrópusambandsins og fyrrverandi formaður Breska Verkamannaflokksins

The euro is here to stay and will emerge stronger from the current crisis.

The events of the last two years have created the conditions for us to strengthen its foundations decisively.

We have put in place new rules to greatly strengthen our capacity to ensure sound public finances.

We have introduced systems to detect and prevent macroeconomic imbalances – such as house price bubbles – that threaten stability.

This is about learning the lessons of the past. That is also why we are undertaking a root-and-branch overhaul of financial regulation and supervision.

Europe must cut public debt levels to restore confidence – while avoiding cuts in areas essential to future growth like education and research. This must be matched by structural reforms to tackle youth unemployment, support small businesses and complete the single market.

For countries most vulnerable to the crisis, we are strengthening our firewalls so as to give them the space to put their own houses in order.

We are undertaking nothing less than an economic reformation of Europe. Step by step, we are creating financial stability and the conditions for sustainable growth and job creation.

– Olli Rehn, varforseti framkvæmdastjórnar Evrópusambandsins, “eurostjóri”.