The eurozone crisis seems to be reaching its climax, with Greece on the verge of default and an inglorious exit from the monetary union, and now Italy on the verge of losing market access. But the eurozone's problems are much deeper. They are structural, and they severely affect at least four other economies: Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus, and Spain...What I'm not sure about is, if this prediction holds true, how to position my personal finances. I'm not a sophisticated investor capable of shorting currencies. Will a Euro crisis spread contagion to other world markets or will Americans, Canadians, Aussies and others see their equities benefit as (relatively) safe havens? Will recession keep interest rates invisibly small, or will countries try to inflate their way out of their problems? I don't know.
In short, the eurozone's periphery is now subject to the paradox of thrift: Increasing savings too much, too fast leads to renewed recession and makes debts even more unsustainable. And that paradox is now affecting even the core.
If the peripheral countries remain mired in a deflationary trap of high debt, falling output, weak competitiveness, and structural external deficits, eventually they will be tempted by a third option: default and exit from the eurozone. This would enable them to revive economic growth and competitiveness through a depreciation of new national currencies.
Of course, such a disorderly eurozone breakup would be as severe a shock as the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, if not worse...
With Italy too big to fail, too big to save, and now at the point of no return, the endgame for the eurozone has begun. Sequential, coercive restructurings of debt will come first, and then exits from the monetary union that will eventually lead to the eurozone’s disintegration.
15 November 2011
Nouriel Roubini thinks the Euro is doomed
I have perhaps a disproportionate respect for this man's opinions, because listening to him speak on a NPR program prompted me to exit the equities market before the downturn of 2008. Past performance is no predictor of future success, but for what it's worth, these are some of his thoughts expressed in a column this week at Slate: