As the eurozone breaks apart, Britain must go its separate way
There are two forms of crisis here, and we should concentrate on the long-term one.
By Charles Moore
08 Jun 2012
What is a crisis? The word has two meanings. One is a turning-point: doctors speak of the crisis of a disease in this sense. The other, vaguer meaning is a period of extreme trouble, which can go on for a long time. One reason that the eurozone crisis seems so utterly unmanageable is that both meanings apply to it.
At any moment, it is possible that market confidence will collapse. If that happened, there would be a run on vulnerable banks, even on all banks in some countries, within hours. That is the turning-point type of crisis. And at the same time, there is a much slower disaster – the uncertainty about who governs Europe, and whether it can be done at all. This sort of crisis can go on for years.
When Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, I made the point in this space that the consequences of the credit crunch would, ultimately, be even worse for the eurozone than for Britain or America, because the zone had “no clear, democratic authority”. “In the next twist of the crisis,” I went on, “the eurozone will have to decide: does it want the birth of a European nation at last, or break up?” What I did not expect, I must admit, was that nearly four years later, this question would still pop up in the world’s media every single day, and still remain unanswered.