Euro crisis brings world to brink of depression

Tuesday, July 24, 2012
By Paul Martin

Commentary: Parallels to 1930s’ missteps unmistakable

By Darrell Delamaide
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch)
July 24, 2012

The financial volatility in Europe may have created a situation that is now beyond the capacity of policy makers to control or curb.

When an accomplished fixer like Pascal Lamy, the head of the World Trade Organization and the longtime chief of staff for former European Commission President Jacques Delors, describes the situation in Europe as “difficult, very difficult, very difficult, very difficult,” you know it is time to run for cover.

The crisis has now gone well beyond the prospect of breaking up the euro EURUSD -0.50% to the threat of a full-fledged financial and economic collapse in Europe that could plunge the world into a second Great Depression.

Few Americans are aware that a worldwide banking crisis started by cascading bank failures in Austria and Germany was one of the major causes of that earlier Depression.

It was in the summer of 1931 that the collapse of Creditanstalt in Vienna forced one of Germany’s big banks, Danatbank, to fail, leading to a credit crisis that prompted bank holidays around the world and exacerbating an already severe economic crisis.

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