The Euro against Europe

One of my important articles has just been translated into Russian and published by Club Valdaï. It is available on the website of this organization. http://valdaiclub.com/files/13571/

I also put it at the disposal of my readers who read Russian, with in particular the introduction to this text.

The Euro against Europe

The European Union is currently experiencing a profound crisis that goes beyond the economy and touches on its very identity. And it was the euro that caused this crisis. Intended as the pinnacle of European integration, the single currency paved the way to the EU’s decline. It is corroding the economic and social foundations of Eurozone countries, undermining democracy and gradually leading to tyrannical behavior, sparking an unprecedented populist backlash. The destructive impact of the single currency on the countries that adopted it is gaining momentum, with the sole exception of Germany, which is not a coincidence. In fact, the euro was created by Germany and for Germany. It created an environment in which the German currency was undervalued, while overvaluing the currencies of France, Italy [1] and Spain [2]. As a result, Germany benefits from a huge structural trade surplus to the detriment of its neighbors, and this surplus could spell the end of the European Union.

Euro contre Europe Anglais

Had it not been for the euro, Germany’s trade balance would have led to a revaluation of the German currency, while making other currencies cheaper. But the very existence of the euro makes all this impossible. For instance, in 1999 Germany reported a trade deficit of -1.4 percent of GDP, but by 2015 its trade surplus had reached 8 percent. What matters most here is that the surplus has been steadily rising ever since the introduction of the euro.

Since 2010 we have witnessed a series of crises with serious social implications both direct (growing unemployment, especially youth unemployment in southern Europe) and indirect, such as the adoption of the foolish restrictive budget policy to “save the euro,” bringing investment down to historic lows and dealing a blow not only to economic growth, but also social wellbeing. At the same time, the successive crises in relations within the EU have pit its countries against one another, threatening European cooperation. The euro challenges and threatens the European spirit, as many economists now agree, including former Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King, who recently published a book criticizing the euro, [3] Nobel prize winners like Joseph Stiglitz [4], and the economists who published a collection of essays on this subject [5]. They all share the same view and are supported by prominent politicians like Oskar Lafontaine, the former head of the Social Democratic Party and founder of The Left party [6], or Stefano Fassina, former member of a center-left government in Italy [7]. This critique represents the articulated and substantiated side of the same movement that put wind in the sails of populist movements across Europe, from the Five Star Movement in Italy and PODEMOS in Spain to the French National Front and similar organizations in the Netherlands and even Germany (AfD). All this naturally raises the question of why the euro was created in the first place.

Notes

  1. Bagnai A., “Italy’s decline and the balance-of- payments constraints: a multicountry analysis” in International Review of Applied Economics, n°20, 2016, p. 1–26.
  2. IMF, 2016 External Sector Report, 18 juillet 2016, Washington, International Monetary Fund, Washington, D.C.
  3. King, Mervyn A., The End Of Alchemy: Money, Banking And The Future Of The Global Economy, Londres, Little, Brown.
  4. Stiglitz Joseph E., The Euro: And its Threat to the Future of Europe, New Yok, Allen Lane, 31 mai 2016.
  5. Coll. L’Euro est-il mort ?, Paris, Editions du Rocher, 2016.
  6. Neues Deutschland: http://www.neues-deutschland. de/artikel/820333.wirbrauchen-wieder-ein- europaeisches-waehrungssystem.html ainsi que sur le blog d’Oskar Lafontaine : http://www.oskar- lafontaine.de/linkswirkt/details/f/1/t/wir-brauchen- wieder-ein-europaeischeswaehrungssystem/.
  7. Fassina S., “For an alliance of national liberation fronts”, article published by Yanis Varoufakis blog on June 27, 2015. http://yanisvaroufakis.

 


Jacques Sapir

Ses travaux de chercheur se sont orientés dans trois dimensions, l’étude de l’économie russe et de la transition, l’analyse des crises financières et des recherches théoriques sur les institutions économiques et les interactions entre les comportements individuels. Il a poursuivi ses recherches à partir de 2000 sur les interactions entre les régimes de change, la structuration des systèmes financiers et les instabilités macroéconomiques. Depuis 2007 il s’est impliqué dans l’analyse de la crise financière actuelle, et en particulier dans la crise de la zone Euro.

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