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Posts Tagged ‘Europe Eurozone’

The Euro – Going From Bad to Worse

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 27, 2012

By Sir Christopher Meyer, Former British Ambassador to the United States and Germany, former Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission

The markets have steadied a bit after their loss of nerve on Monday. But you can’t help feeling that it is a bit like a climber, sliding down a glacier to his inevitable doom, who breaks his fall for a while on a crumbling ledge that soon will give way.

Things in Euroland have taken a bad turn for the worse – and it’s the politics, stupid. It is not just the uncertainty about the second round of French presidential elections on 6 May. François Hollande, the Socialist leader, will probably win, because it will be easier for him than for Nicolas Sarkozy to pick up votes from those whose candidates were knocked out in the first round. But the energetic Sarko should never be underestimated. He is pitching his campaign hard to gain votes from the hard Right supporters of Marine Le Pen. Herein lies the problem for the euro and for Germany.

It almost doesn’t matter who wins the election. The fiscal compact agreed in principle by 25 out of 27 European leaders in January – “a kind of German straitjacket for the fiscally wayward”, to quote Stephen King, group chief economist of HSBC – is Angela Merkel’s pride and joy, her answer to all the eurozone’s difficulties. Typically, like the euro itself, it has been designed to make everyone more like Germany. Hollande has already made it a plank of his campaign to renegotiate the compact. Meanwhile, as Sarkozy moves ever rightwards, striking a strongly nationalist tone (and risking the estrangement of centrist voters), he puts himself increasingly at odds with a compact designed to create greater fiscal union on German terms. If Sarko wins, it is hard to see how Merkozy, never the warmest of unions, can simply pick up where they left off. Read the rest of this entry »

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