Daily Archives: September 19, 2011

Greece is stuck in a vicious cycle of insolvency, low competitiveness and ever-deepening depression. Exacerbated by a draconian fiscal austerity, its public debt is heading towards 200 per cent of gross domestic product. To escape, Greece must now begin an orderly default, voluntarily exit the eurozone and return to the drachma.

Of course, this process will be traumatic. The most significant problem would be capital losses for core eurozone financial institutions. Overnight, the foreign euro liabilities of Greece’s government, banks and firms would surge. Yet these problems can be overcome. Argentina did so in 2001, when it “pesified” its dollar debts. America actually did something similar too, in 1933 when it depreciated the dollar by 69 per cent and repealed the gold clause. A similar unilateral “drachmatization” of euro debts would be necessary and unavoidable. Read more

Lawrence Summers is right to point out that instead of acting promptly with overwhelming force, Europe has consistently been one day late and one euro short. The Greek crisis was after all a very small problem when it emerged. Denial, procrastination and parsimony have now led to contagion to the core.

But the only question that matters is, what to do now? Mr Summers advocates a bold view of the future, a swift recapitalisation of banks and a reversal of the macroeconomic policy stance. All three are necessary, with the important caveat that most eurozone countries cannot afford further fiscal stimulus. Read more