Things are falling apart in Europe; the center is not holding. Papandreou is going to hold a referendum; the vote will be no. Italian 10-years at 6.29 at pixel time; that’s a level at which the cost of rolling over the existing debt will force a default, even though Italy has a primary surplus. And with everyone simultaneously pushing for fiscal austerity, a recession seems almost certain, aggravating all of the continent’s problems.
I’ve been charting this trainwreck for a couple of years, and am feeling too weary to trace through it again right now. Let’s just say that the euro was an inherently flawed idea that can work only given a strong European economy and a significant degree of inflation, plus open-ended credit to sovereigns facing speculative attack. Yet European elites embraced the notion of economics as morality play, imposing across-the-board austerity, tightening money despite low underlying inflation, and have been too concerned with punishing sinners to notice that everything was going to blow apart without an effective lender of last resort.
The question I’m trying to answer right now is how the final act will be played. At this point I’d guess soaring rates on Italian debt leading to a gigantic bank run, both because of solvency fears about Italian banks given a default and because of fear that Italy will end up leaving the euro. This then leads to emergency bank closing, and once that happens, a decision to drop the euro and install the new lira. Next stop, France.
It all sounds apocalyptic and unreal. But how is this situation supposed to resolve itself? The only route I see to avoid something like this involves the ECB totally changing its spots, fast.
Aside from that, Mr. Draghi, are you enjoying your new job?"