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Europe's big test: why the Euro will not help

Ten years have passed since the founding of the European Central Bank but it seems as if it was yesterday. This was the last crucial step towards the introduction of the Euro, a currency that was adopted by many European countries. With little nostalgia, these countries have forgotten their marks, francs, lire and pesetas. A big celebration of this anniversary is being planned by the ECB and I admit that there is a reason for it. The bank has chosen well-established methods of central banking and performed relatively well. It has quickly created a functioning monetary policy strategy. It has managed to keep inflation under control and by doing so has contributed to the recognition of the Euro as a true international currency. In spite of all this, it is no great success. Why?

The question is whether the Eurozone countries and their citizens have cause to celebrate. The answer is uncertain, given the zone's sluggish economic growth, great growth differences among countries and large differences in inflation, even though a single currency should have one rate. In 1998 the Eurozone was first of all a political project and it was generally believed that its economic underpinnings would be created at a later stage. A homogeneous economic entity was to be created, held together by a common currency. These hopes have not been fulfilled so far. I am not surprised. European politicians expected the Euro to speed up economic growth in Europe, which lagged behind the rest of the world, but the currency's adoption resulted in a further slowdown.

The Eurozone has seen slower growth than the US and the European Union as a whole. Labour productivity growth has slowed and total factor productivity has dropped to a mere half of that in the two decades before the Euro. It is clear that two groups of countries have emerged: one with a permanently high inflation rate; the other with a low one. From 2000 to 2006, inflation in six out of 12 Eurozone countries exceeded the Maastricht criterion. A country with above-average inflation in a single exchange rate area gradually loses its competitive strength, and vice versa. Germany, for example, was pushed to a situation of deflation, which had a negative effect on its growth.

With the enlargement of the Eurozone, inflation differences can become greater. In Slovenia, which entered the Eurozone in January 2007, inflation rose from 1.6 per cent before accession to 5.7 per cent at the end of the first year of membership and to 6.9 per cent in March 2008. Today, it has the highest inflation rate in the Eurozone. Experts agree that if Slovakia joins the Eurozone it can also expect a significant rise in inflation. These pressures also emerge in cases where a country has pegged its currency to the Euro at a fixed rate. That is, to a great extent, why the inflation rates of the Baltic countries have reached 12 per cent to 17.5 per cent. This cannot be explained only by the rise in prices of food and raw materials.

Besides the Euro, another reason for unsatisfactory growth is economic policy in the EU countries and a reluctance to carry out necessary liberalisation and pro-market reforms. On the 10th anniversary of the Euro we hear the usual calls for greater fiscal discipline, for the perfection of the "stability and growth pact" and for decisive structural reforms. But these calls are not serious. They also ignore the fact that many of the Eurozone's problems are caused by the introduction of a common currency in a disparate group of countries, each of which needs different interest and exchange rates.

The European Commission declares that the most important step towards improving the Eurozone's prosperity is closer political union. This should lead to moreco-ordination of national economic policies and centrally prescribed structural reforms. In relation to the outside world, the Eurozone also needs to speak with one voice. Member countries should give up their representations in international institutions and their right to express their own view - on behalf of a single common representative of the Eurozone. Even those analysts whose assessments of the Euro are entirely positive admit that in its first 10 years the Eurozone did not go through any serious crisis that would put the currency to a test. Such a test is looming.

The world's economic situation is changing. Large countries, such as China and India, are seeking greater roles. International competition keeps escalating and demand for raw materials and food is rising.Brussels bureaucrats are not able to react to the changing conditions. They underestimate the struggle for raw materials and the pressures posed by the economic emancipation ofunderdeveloped countries. They blindly keep on making climate change their global priority.

If Europe does not wake up, it will face hard times. A common monetary policy will not help. Member countries already react differently to the appreciation of the Euro against the dollar, the rising cost of energy, food and raw materials, and Asian competition. We can expect politicians, eager to divert the disappointment of their citizens from their own doorsteps, to increase pressure on the European Central Bank to adjust its monetary policy to the needs of the largest, most influential countries of the zone. Ten years after its founding, the European Central Bank faces stronger pressures than ever. In practice the Euro has shown that forcing an economically disparate Europe into a homogeneous entity through a political decision is political engineering par excellence and has been far from beneficial for all the countries.

Dit opiniestuk van de Tsjechische president Vaclav Klaus werd vandaag naar een aantal libertarische opiniemakers verstuurd en fragmenten hieruit verschenen ook in de Financial Times.

Meer teksten van/over deze persoon op www.vaclavklaus.cz.

6 Reacties:

At 22:04 Evelyne said...

De huidige lage dollarkoers is het geheime wapen van de USA. Na het loslaten van de goudstandaard door Nixon gewoon geld creëren, ten koste van de eigen middenklasse én de concurrerende landen die niet langer kunnen exporteren naar de VS maar wel massaal moeten importeren door de lage dollar op de wisselmarkten.

Zie deze website: http://www.gata.org/

Het Verenigd Koninkrijk is erg slim geweest om niet dele te nemen in de euro. Al deze bewegingen zijn 15 jaar geleden al voorspeld, hun gevolgen ook. Maar geen kat die toen (en nu) wilt luisteren.

 
At 00:15 Joris Verdonk said...

Inderdaad Evelyne, de centrale banken zijn de grootste bedreiging voor onze vrijheid geworden. Vaclav Klaus heeft ook in dit FT-artikel overschot van gelijk, alleen legt hij iets teveel de nadruk op de economische cijfers én niet op het monsterlijke principe achter de ganse Euro-constructie.

Maar goed, Klaus is stilaan onze laatste bondgenoot op het Europese continent, want van alle MPS'ers en libertarisch georiënteerden is hij nog maar de enige met een politiek topmandaat. Ik wacht trouwens wel nog op zijn beslissing om ondanks alle tegenkantingen in Tsjechië alsnog een EU-referendum te houden. Dat zou hem nog meer sieren dan zulke intellectuele praatjesmakerij in de FT.

 
At 11:39 Danish Dynamite said...

De euro is één van de domste uitvindingen geweest in dit tijdperk. Het voldoet weliswaar aan het criterium dat het een wettig europees betaalmiddel is, maar het waardegevoel ontbreekt volstrekt. Vele europeanen, ik noem u duitsers, italianen en fransen walgen van de euro en willen hun eigen valuta weer terug. Er is inderdaad sprake van heimwee naar de gulden, de mark etc.

Het aspect waardegevoel dat volstrekt ontbreekt bij de euro verdonkerenmaant de waarde van producten. Nominaal lijken de prijzen overal gunstig, totdat je gaat omrekenen en dan kom je bedrogen uit, de purchasing power is drastisch verminderd. Kritici die beweren dat we in een innovatieve wereld leven, waarin de kwaliteit van producten zoals spijkerbroeken, tv's, auto's en huizen van een betere kwaliteit worden, die hebben gelijk. En dit mag dan ook verdisconteerd worden in de prijs.

Echter ondernemers hebben met de euro de kans gegrepen om de producten meer dan rechtevenredig te verhogen. En dat is diefstal. Om u één voorbeeld te noemen vanuit de horeca, voor een hajenius sigaar(panalito voor de kenners) wordt 2 euro(nominaal) gevraagd, dat is omgerekend 4,40 gulden. Ik heb genoten van de sigaar maar in het gulden tijdperk zou je toch denken dat de café uitbater gek is. En de consument ook. Hoe durft die man 2 euro voor een sigaar te vragen (op de banderol staat trouwens 0,94 euro) Dit is oplichting van de consument! En zo zijn er verscheidenen voorbeelden van hoe de consument belazerd wordt door de invoering van de euro.

Er is geen waarde perceptie meer en mensen zeggen ja tegen nominale prijzen, omdat ze laag lijken. In bijna alle europese landen vinden meer dan de helft van de burgers dat de euro schade toebrengt aan economieën. In Duitsland is de roep om de mark zeer groot. Het wordt tijd dat er één euroland opstaat en de eigen valuta weer invoert. Misschien volgen er dan meer landen. Het argument dat de euro een bindmiddel is voor het euro gevoel vind ik onzin. En ik daag alle economen onder uit om met tegen argumenten te komen. De euro is een grote vergissing. Vaclav Klaus heeft overschot van gelijk.

 
At 14:44 Anoniem said...

Vaclav Klaus is de laatste échte libertariër van Europa, zeker nu zijn Estse evenknie van weleer Mart Laar meer een bijzetmeubel en rijkelijk verdienende mainstream-gastspreker geworden is. Klaus heeft nu de kans om in Tsjechië de ratificatie op te schorten of gewoon niet te bespreken. Nu Ierland nay gezegd heeft, moeten alle democraten dat respecteren. Het Verdrag van Lissabon is dood.

 
At 17:12 Anoniem said...

2000 jaar Europese geschiedenis =2000 jaar een bloedbad .
Als Europa zichzelf bekijkt door een bril van 100 jaar oud dan is het een horror story van elkaar de hersens inslaan ,en de rest van wereld meeslepende.
De miljoenen,nee miljarden ,die het deden voor volk en vaderland worden nu voorgoed begraven in een united Europa.

 
At 18:06 Anoniem said...

Een schitterend commentaarstuk van Gerald Warner op zijn Telegraph-blog vandaag.

EU referendum: Quaintly democratic Ireland throws out Lisbon

Jayzus! Would ye look at them tearin’ up that lovely treaty… It appears the Emerald Isle has kicked the European integrationists in the jewels. Of course, as any aficionado of 19th-century Punch cartoons knows, Britain has always regarded our western neighbour as a backward country full of quaint superstitious folk survivals – such as democracy.

It cannot have helped the establishment that the journalistic term “Pro-Treaty forces” had an unhappy historical resonance in certain areas of the country. The most immediate consequence of this result is that no Irish holidaymaker in Europe (or Britain) this summer will have to put his hand in his pocket in a bar. We asked the Irish to speak for us and they obliged.

However, we have been here before. In 2001 the Irish electorate rejected the Treaty of Nice by 54 per cent to 46 per cent. Silly people – it was the wrong answer. So the following year, like a recalcitrant schoolboy being dragged by the ear back to his desk to do his unsatisfactory homework over again, the Irish electorate was made to repeat the exercise. This time the voters got it right, by 63 per cent to 37 per cent.

Whether the Irish government will dare to attempt such an international humiliation of its own citizens again seems doubtful. The reasons for the rejection were varied, but moral issues such as abortion were among them, greatly to the credit of the Irish people. A side effect of this result is that the Catholic Church in Ireland, marginalised since the early 1990s and which discreetly pressed for a No vote, has recovered some of its influence, at the expense of the repudiated political establishment.

In what guise will the European constitution be brought back next – health and safety regulations? In fact the Eurofascists will press on regardless, despite rejection now by France, the Netherlands and Ireland. The Protocols of the Elders of Brussels will be enforced. Lending aid and comfort will be our own forsworn Prime Minister who has denied us the referendum promised in his election manifesto. We must ensure that, in the one referendum he cannot evade, in 2010, this charmless dictator is consigned to his rightful destiny – a noisome fish-head in the dustbin of history.

 

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