Is Europe On The Verge Of Another Great Depression – Or A Great Inflation?
By Simon Johnson
The news from Europe, particularly from within the eurozone, seems all bad. Interest rates on Italian government debt continue to rise. Attempts to put together a “rescue package” at the pan-European level repeatedly fall behind events. And the lack of leadership from Germany and France is palpable – where is the vision or the clarity of thought we would have had from Charles de Gaulle or Konrad Adenauer?
In addition, the pessimists argue, because the troubled countries are locked into the euro, there are no good options. Gentle or even dramatic depreciation of the exchange rate for Greece or Portugal or Italy is not in the cards. As a result, it is hard to lower real wages so as to restore competitiveness and boost trade. This means that the debt burdens for these countries are likely to seem insurmountable for a long time. Hence there will likely be default and resulting global financial chaos.