SHOULD THE EMU DIVORCE THE EURO?
Maybe it doesn’t make sense for the EMU to divorce the Euro after all. The Wall Street Journal today announced that only 7 European banks have failed the much anticipated “stress test” and even though the Euro is trading lower against the dollar, all bets are off that Europe is fiscally unsustainable, in spite of what is going on in Greece, Portugal and Spain.
Now, I’m about to commit blogger hari kari, since this is not at all my area of expertise but does the stress test results solidify the marriage between the EU countries? Or does it just delay the inevitable? I mean, it is not just the passing of the test in such flying colors (although all the experts agree that the test was too easy to begin with) but the fact that, according to the press I read, exports are rising and employment is stabilizing and other indicators are pointing to a much rosier picture for the solvency of the European banking system than this time three months ago.
It appears, therefore, that at least as of today, the EMU’s “divorcing of their sovereign currencies in favor of the Euro” was not the biggest macro-economic mistake made in the post-Depression, post-cold war era. (That sounded good to me…but how did I do on your BS odometer? 🙂 )
But is this stress test grade just a band aid for a marriage gone toxic? The WSJ:
st October, Greece’s worsening fiscal situation stoked fears that the European Union member could default on its debts, igniting a continent-wide crisis of confidence that entangled neighboring countries, dozens of banks and even Europe’s common currency. Attempted fixes, including a $1 trillion rescue fund announced in early May, provided only temporary respites.
Are you scared for them? I sort of am. But am I just an “overly pessimistic outsider” who is bearish on a perfectly fine situation due simply to the fact that, well, I’m on the outside and I really don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors?
Whatever the facts may be, it is clear to everyone, including a financial neophyte like myself that, as a bloc, the EMU is too big to fail and so too is their banking system. Plus, on the question of “divorcing the Euro,” I mean, even assuming that sovereign debt holders don’t pass the sovereign stress test….well, this is where I just completely don’t know what I’m talking about (dude, I fix cars!) but, so, if they don’t, or can’t….well, here’s what the WSJ said about that:
A particular flashpoint: the politically charged question of whether the tests should look at the impact of an EU member defaulting on its sovereign debt. Such an event—which many investors consider plausible—would cause losses for any institution holding that country’s bonds, and many European banks own bonds issued by countries like Greece, Spain and Portugal.
Ok. So, back to my original question: what are the chances that the EMU will divorce the Euro? And return to their sovereign currencies? And what does sovereign debt have to do with it?