A chance for happiness for Europe’s unhappy family (*)

Europe is an unhappy family. And like all unhappy families, its diverse forms of competing miseries, afflicting differently its different members, are the reason it cannot regain its poise. Divorce is looming. Only in Europe’s case, and this is where my analogy with families breaks down, divorce can never be cathartic. It stands no chance of leading us to satisfying new relationships and to a future in which we can find peace, tranquility, and a calm state of mind from which to reassess our failed marriage. No, the disintegration of the Eurozone is bound to lead to a deconstruction of the European Union which will, in turn, spawn a postmodern version of the 1930s. The best we can hope for is that, this time round, the fallout will be more farcical that what ensued back then.

The problem is that Europe is not ready for the equivalent of committing to cohabitation ad infinitum; of living under a Federal structure; of paying for things from a common (federal) purse. And it won’t be until and unless we are ready to envision a common army; an electoral system where Greeks may vote for Germans (and Germans for Portuguese officials) to rule over them; of pictures on our euro notes that are images of really existing monuments (as opposed to fictitious gates and bridges that only serve as a reminder of our incapacity to share symbols). And there’s the rub: For we now know that without such unification Europe will unravel with hideous consequences not only for Europeans but for the global social economy as well. Europe, after all, has managed, twice in the last hundred years, to drag the planet into despicable mires. We surely can do it again!

But if Federation is out, at least for now, and the present confederacy is disintegrating before our stunned eyes, is it time to throw in the towel? Certainly not. Thankfully, there is an alternative path on which we can embark swiftly and which leads to a speedy resolution of Europe’s Crisis. The idea is to reconfigure existing European institutions in a manner that, at once,

(a) imposes no demands on the taxpayers of the surplus countries to finance the debts of the deficit nations,

(b) requires no new Treaties (since Treaty changes will, at best, come far too late in the piece),

(c)  resolves the three interconnected, yet distinct, crises that are eating away into Europe’s foundations: our debt crisis, the crisis of substandard investment (especially in the indebted regions that need it the most), and, of course, our banking debacle.

Can these three objectives be achieved simultaneously? I submit that they can. To give you a flavour of how this can be done, let’s push the family metaphor a little further. Suppose that a young couple, with terrible credit-worthiness, is struggling to meet its mortgage repayments, due to high interest rates. Rather than having the rest pitch in, an aunt with good credit ratings could take out a loan (at much lower interest rates) to repay the youngsters’ expensive loan, on an agreement (supervised by the whole family) that the youngsters meet the monthly repayments. To safeguard the nice aunt, in case the young ones cannot meet these repayments, the rest of the family can buy out insurance that will repay the aunt if things go badly wrong. This way the young couple manages to make ends meet without having the rest pay for it. In Europe’s case, the equivalent is for the European Central Bank to issue its own bonds for the purposes of servicing member-state debt on condition that the members redeem these bonds in the fullness of time (but at the low interest rates secured by ‘auntie’, the ECB, on their behalf). Additionally, the current bailout fund (the EFSF), rather than bailing out member-states with the money of the surplus nations’ taxpayers, can simply provide insurance services to the ECB (in the remote case that some members do not redeem its bonds in the distant future).

Notice that such a scheme at once ends the debt crisis and relieves the German taxpayer from having to pay, or guarantee, the Club Med’s debts. And that it does so without any new institutions, without federal moves, without all the commitments that the European family is not ready for. In my Modest Proposal the reader can find two more ideas of how to deal with the other two major crises: investment and banks. But these are details. The gist is that Europe can be saved without cohabitation under some, hastily assembled, oppressive, Federal structure. All it takes is a rational re-assignment of existing institutions. The burning question, however, remains: Are we prepared to accept that neither divorce nor the current confederacy are decent options for our troubled family?

(*) A piece written for The Globalist, where it will appear next week.

42 thoughts on “A chance for happiness for Europe’s unhappy family (*)

  1. Pingback: Fiscal Waterboarding versus Eurobonds: Misrepresenting the latter to effect the former | New Bullhorn

  2. Pingback: Europe’s potential gains from a silent alliance between Paris and Athens « Greek Left Review

  3. The Germanic tribes have destroyed in the past the Roman Empire and I bet that the modern Germanic nations will destroy the EU! One major problem is their nationalistic and sometimes even racist culture and political system. See at all the right wing parties spreading all over northern Europe.

    I am living in Germany since many years and I have witnessed this insane political and cultural nationalism firsthand. Every time there are elections they bash the foreigners for example. The last two years they were constantly bashing the Greeks and no one politician ever protested against this hate campaign.

    I don’t think that the EU was ever a family and doubt very much that it will ever become one. The solution would be for the south to build its own family and leave the Northerners do their own stuff.

    I am not nationalistic but I am a realist and I see the picture on the wall.

    • Finally an approach everybody can live with! Why fight if it is much easier to separate and be more distant friends, while trading with each other instead of fighting over each others funds!

  4. As somebody already wrote, we are not a family, we are neighbors. We don’t want to have a common army, under the Ottomans we had more say that we will ever have in a common army with 80 million Germans; I don’t see why you are pushing the Greeks to be subservient to others. The federal states help the less developed parts but very little, the helpers are doing it unwillingly and the helped ones remain poor for generations. The rich Greeks don’t share their wealth with poor Greeks as the rich Germans don’t share their wealth with poor Germans.
    Democracy is when you vote in the community that you know, and can influence. When you vote for Germans or vice versa it means absolutely nothing, it is an exercise of playing on democracy, it is a fiction.
    A common army after a while will have a mind of itself; it will serve itself not the constituents and it will not uphold the democratic principles. We have an army, we are occupied and the army doesn’t even know it, or if does know it than they are cooperating with occupiers.
    The crime of the powers in Greece is that it allowed what happen to happen, they were the lowest of the low, and they were in business of destroying the wealth and the moral fiber of a proud nation;. shame on them. I don’t have any doubt that other powers were trying to subjugate us and to steal our common property. From the time of written history that we know, that was always happening.
    The only solution is to kick politely the occupiers and after that outperform the Germans at what they do best. Maybe you don’t believe that we can do it, but I know that we can.

    • Dean,
      once again i understand your points (i dont applaud them) but tell me something.You dont really realise that the only reason we had 2 parties and 2 families governing us for 20-30 years is that apart from voting for them due to political beliefs,habbit,interests etc a large portion of the population voted for them because they saw no alternative.I even now have a friend that is going to vote for PASOK because he doesnt want to vote for the right wingers and also sees no alternatives on the left!Well i can assure you,if Samaras gets to form a gvt. this time,we won’t be seeing alternatives 4 years from now either and so on and so forth.You say Tsipras lacks experience for example (put any imaginary name instead of Tsipras,im not trying to push in his favor),how is the man supposed to gain experience if he never gets a chance?How would a basketball player gain experience if you always put him in the bench because hes not ready to play ? *Shake my damn head*

    • Dean, I think you’re wrong on your KISS idea. Samaras may irritate Merkel more than Venizelos but not by enough to really count. I think a protest vote is absolutely the most logical vote to cast. Vote left! Make a small statement and hope enough others do the same that someone is really incovenienced who has the power.

    • After all this analysis about Plato, Aristotele, ideas about society and philosophical thinking, you concluded to Samaras?!

      Τι πίνεις και δεν μας δίνεις!

    • David,

      It’s a question of simple math. Let me explain.

      There are 250 seats up for grabs and 50 seats given to the first party as a bonus for a total of 300 seats. You need 151 seats to govern.

      So, 10% of the vote roughly translates to 25 seats. So, say you vote left (KKE, Syriza, Democratic Alliance). Each of these 3 parties controls roughly 10% of the vote, so a total 30% (make it 40% for you due to our friendship). 40% vote = 100 seats or 51 short of the majority needed.

      On the other hand ND (currently in the lead) has roughly 30% of the vote. 30% vote = 75 seats. Add to such the 50 seat bonus, so you got 125 seats (need another 26 to govern).

      So, acting purely on the principle that a “lead is terrible thing to waste”, I think the best move is to give ND the extra push it needs to get over the top.

      Any other combination would lead to a unity/coalition government which by definition will be divided and fragmented to the point of being unable to govern. If a coalition government is forged somehow, it will collapse in less than 6 months or so leading to new elections until a clear winner is established.

      I know all of this might sound as some “sweaty knockers” for you but trust me on this. Greece at this stage needs an independent single party government. If the left was able to put the math together then I could have supported it once I saw the proposed ministerial composition. As things stand ND has the lead and there is nothing I can do about it other than accept the fact and work with it. My objective is to defeat Merkel not what flavor of the month my Greek government is sporting and why.

    • If we weren’t so deep in the sh!t i’d wish Samaras managed to get the majority so that Dean would realise that he ain’t nothing but the same ol’ same ol’.Thats just like voting for Papandreou in the 80s in order to take Greece out of NATO and EU….guess what we’re still in EU and NATO…

      ps:Im not implying we should have exited

    • OK, Dean, I get it. Hell of a world we’re in. Your strategy is the same as many progressives in US who will vote for Romney, thinking that the world has to get worse before things can get better. And… you may be right.

    • You fellas like to harrass me on the Samaras choice but let’s examine the alternatives:

      Venizelos – dismissed. Clueless on financial matters, just a constitutional attorney with some rhetoric prose. He has become a bona fide agent of the German medicine and an executor of Berlin’s party line. I never thought that socialists would be able to turnover Greece to a foreign power in such an overt and shameless way.

      Tsipras – A mini me version of a modern day Alcibiades. And I say “mini me” because he is neither as charismatic as Alcibiades nor as treacherous. A 38 year old, civil engineer with 10 years of experience in marginal politics and a ton more to learn.

      Kouvelis – interesting fellow, soft spoken but certainly lacking the appeal of a leader able to impress on the European stage.

      Papariga – o.k. kind of embarrassed to talk about her. Best kept in a cellar; can’t even picture her mingling with the Brussels crowd in a coherent, articulate manner.

      Kammenos – what a clown. A megalomaniac seeking recognition through populist politics. Zero credibility for the day after.

      Karatzaferis – an ex-gym owner with media exposure. Nice persona for daily shows but not heavy duty politics.

      Crhysi Avgi(aka Greek Nazis) – Who the eff are these guys? Talking about real morons.

      So, why are you guys getting on my case? Where is the alternative?

    • David:

      My view of US Republicans today is that they are direct descendants of the British Royalists of the American Revolution. While some Americans then were choosing to loose life and limb for freedom, at least a good half openly collaborated with the enemy for wealth and status preservation.

      Romney comes from this ungodly class of collaborators with the British Crown wanting to preserve capital and privilege for the modern incarnations of this odious class of free loaders while ordinary American citizens risk and sacrifice everything.

    • Hello Dean, nice to see that you are still commenting here, and not only here, also elsewhere! A time ago I stopped with following this blog because the intellectual factor was growing over my head. Now back because of May 6, back as a blogger myself.

      Of course I clicked on your link. Of course I read it.

      I am surprised by your glorifications for Samaras. I don’t speak Greek, but I have a high sensitivity-level for receiving signals about what I see and hear, feel, notice. That is called emotional intelligence and you obviously don’t have any of it. With other words: your inner eyes are blind and you don’t hear what is behind words. You cannot see through facades called faces, you don’t look really into eyes.

      You don’t realise who you are praising! Glorifying! Samaras is, as I sense it and understand it, a very dangerous person, not intelligent enough to govern Greece, he is not a politician, not for Greece, not for Europe not for the world, not capable to help Greece out of its drama. He is a catastrophe.
      Did you ever hear him speaking? Did you hear the way he is shouting in the microphone, lately? Did you ever observe Samaras’ cold eyes, cold face, all that speaks an own language. Did you ever study that language? How can you defend him?

      Your words are a statement of your own blindness, of your own lack of emotional intelligence. You affect, influence people with your words, and those words will find the people who are still doubting, not knowing anymore where to vote on, you create that people think Samaras is ok. I am here to create balance in that.

      Pasok has been condemned as the paryty who ruined Greece and the Greeks. It is a lie. And if I was a Greek, I would dare to vote on Pasok again!!!! Not because I like their mistakes they made in the past, but because Venizelos is the one and only one (and he is from Pasok) who I would dare to invite on the chair to govern Greece in the next years, to help it overcome the deepest horror of this moment. To the next elections. This is just the start.

      When Samaras is going to govern all will be hushed up. All. Because I believe this is the only reason that he wants to govern: to avoid that the truth about ND will come out, and all they did wrong in the past. Greece did not go to hell because of two and a half year Pasok. Who created that story? It is defamation. Not more than that.

      If you want to know my thoughts: I wrote a long post on the lections in Greece: http://theodorakisfriends.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/greece-may-6-2012/
      Pity for you: it is not possible to add comments.

    • Im sorry,i wrote a reply for Dean,but i mistakenly put it as a reply at Demetre’s post.Dean check it out my friend.

    • @TheodorakisFriends
      “Greece did not go to hell because of two and a half year Pasok.”
      Greece went to hell cause of the euro.So did Portugal,so does Spain etc.BUT it was PASOK that advocated that there’s only one way to save the day and ND co-signed it…So wow….what the hell…you are trying to persuade someone not to vote for ND and vote for PASOK instead? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHNGA1TD1Z8

    • TheodorakisFriends:

      I heard you. Politics is not a profession for those with thin skin. Therefore, I am not going to answer your accusations of lack of emotional intelligence on my part because I am assuming this conversation is not about me. I have neither a Messiah/Jesus complex nor I have been stricken yet off my horse on the way to Tarsus.

      The Greek drama today has two distinct dimensions. A European one where 70% of the problem lies and a domestic one with 30% contribution to the whole. Whereas most people focus exclusively on the domestic part (agony, human tragedy, erosion of liberties et al) as if this is the entire problem, I on the other hand have a view that Greece’s predicament is a result of poor advocacy/representation at the European level.

      I am sorry that Samaras is not good enough for you but the issue here transcends personal preference. It boils down to a very simple and elementary construct which is the following: Unless you wish Greece to maintain a modicum of sovereignty and get out of this mess using own forces (imperfect as they might be), all other choices other than a single and independently strong government lead to disaster.

      To put it simply: This is not a time to be overcome by emotion about the plight of our citizens and summarily dismiss politics of the past in favor of new combinations. Strange as it may sound, this is a time to dig deep and find a basis and appreciation for our Greek brand of politics and gather around such as the only means of survival.

      As I explained above(perhaps you posted at the same time as my last post without the benefit of having read it), Samaras emerges as the lead candidate not of any particular virtue rather by the lack of any distinction/virtue of his political opponents.

      I think, given the dire circumstances of the Greek state, there is a way of giving a mandate to Samaras without such mandate being construed by him and his party as a license to continue the faulty politics of the past.I also believe that despite the messy way we conduct our political affairs that there is a level where even corrupt politicians instinctively understand that “enough is enough”. We are at this level today. Emotionally intelligent or virtual idiots our politicians today understand what needs to be done and are ready to do it.

      You don’t have to respect my opinion but I also think that it would be a colossal mistake to finally have reached a critical mass in Greek politics of doing what needs to be done and then throw such chance away because we have lost faith in the decency of our politicians and their ability to do the right thing. It would be a national tragedy to assign a new untested class of skippers to take over control of the ship at the top of the worst ever storm to hit modern Greek politics. When a team loses a serious game in a best of five series, you don’t put the reserves in the next game to recapture victory. You just gather the same veteran team and you rekindle its fighting spirit to recapture their lost honor. And in doing so(in politics) recapture justice for all citizens of the state.

      The linear thinking suggesting that the sum of past mistakes/omissions is a good predictor of future performance is simply wrong. Just because two parties lead us to a disaster does not mean that the same two parties will continue to produce disasters. It most likely means that this time they got it and that even themselves realize that there is no room for error. Redemption is part of the virtuous cycle of politics. Givepolitical sinners a chance and see them transform to emotionally intelligent human beings.

      Sincerely,

      Your emotionally dumb friend.

    • “Any other combination would lead to a unity/coalition government which by definition will be divided and fragmented to the point of being unable to govern”

      Any government, coalition or not will fall in 6 months time if the same policies are implemented.

      “I know all of this might sound as some “sweaty knockers” for you but trust me on this. Greece at this stage needs an independent single party government. If the left was able to put the math together then I could have supported it once I saw the proposed ministerial composition”

      Has it occurred to you that if left parties remain separate prior to elections, they will have more power after the elections than being as one from the beginning. What do you think PASOK and ND make desperate attempts to convince their people that they are different.

      “Just because two parties lead us to a disaster does not mean that the same two parties will continue to produce disasters. It most likely means that this time they got it and that even themselves realize that there is no room for error. Redemption is part of the virtuous cycle of politics. Givepolitical sinners a chance and see them transform to emotionally intelligent human beings.”

      This is far too cheap Dean and you know it.
      Everything should me bad as simple as possible, but not simpler-Einstein

    • Crossover:

      You asked using Tsipras as a hypothetical example: How is he to gain experience if he is always on the bench? (per the basketball team metaphor).

      Fair question. Here is my take on it. As a coach you choose very carefully the games a talented young player first plays at a pro level because a.) you don’t want to destroy the player’s confidence in himself in entering the wrong game b.) you seek situations(aka games) that could produce positive reinforcement (meaning the more you win the better a player you become i.e. a positive reinforcing loop).

      Getting back to our Greek politics, when PASOK came to power under the Papandreou leadership many thought that this was a new generation of socialists or the Greek version of Obama, the “yes we can” and “new ways of doing business” crowd. The new government had an agenda much, much different than the set of circumstances dealt to it and for which we now know this young/untested/idealistic (you fill in the blanks) government was totally unprepared for.

      So, when you ask me about Tsipras, my immediate reflex is to ask you back about the possibility of a young and untested politician being put in the middle of the worst crisis in Greek history after WWII and in a field (economics) which many might consider outside his immediate area of competence.

      So, now going back to the basketball metaphor. Say you are the coach and are looking to give Tsipras a chance to develop experience and skills. Don’t you think is a bit brutal for the kid to throw him in front of the beast (Merkel) and most likely devoured never again having a chance for either himself or his party to survive politically? You see where I am going with this. Tsipras might be a young and promising player but you can’t ask him to take the place of the team leader and expect him to produce in such position.

      And in the case of Tsipras is not only him but the whole of Syriza organization is young and inexperienced. How you would be able to field ministerial posts out of Syriza? Personally in know nothing about these people and never heard of them. If indeed they have skills, let them display them and allow the public to scrutinize them. Politics is a very serious art. The welfare of the state depends on them. In politics you measure many times and you cut once. And you better be right.

    • Ilia Trou:

      O.k. why then don’t we examine your choice. Who do you think is best to lead Greece at this juncture and why?

      Let’s openly examine choices and get into some comparative analysis.

      Let’s assume, we all care for the best for Greece and let’s examine the choices we have in front of us. What do you have in mind?

  5. Obviously, the Greeks have lost their marbles.
    How about if the British sold the Greeks marbles to the Germans at 80% fair value.
    On condition they stop trying to screw the Greeks?

  6. Its dissapointing to see so many posts and replies on this blog that still are buying into the misdirection of the neo-liberal elites who brought this crisis to Europe. The ‘proflagacy’ of the Med countries, for instance, is a lie to direct your attention away from the regulatory capture of every countries’ financial structures by neo-liberal criminals, who, incidently have actually captured more than Europe’s financial instituions, but also many of the govts themselves. We are hostages to a tiny group of bankers who don’t want you to know the truth. Please, wake up. There wasn’t proflagacy, there was outright theft that brought on this crisis!

  7. Keep pushing it, Yanis. If Spain defaults, it may be enough to force the hand of the neo-liberal swine running Germany and the ECB into doing the right thing. They know what the right thing is – just can’t give up their insane insistence on “competitiveness”, their code word for structurally adjusting labor.

  8. Independently of the result of the elections, what measures are imposed upon Greece can not be implemented. If Germany wants to be a member of Europe, this must be proven by actions not by wishes.
    Greece has proven that wants to be a part of a democratic, mutual-beneficiary alliance called Europe. It’s been proven by the sacrifices and democratic fights in the previous century and most importantly the last two years. It’s now in the hands of Germany to prove with actions its will.

    We respect ourselves, we respect our birthplace. YOU fellow Europeans must fight NOW for Europe, not Greece.

    In heroic and greek island Crete and all over the country the power of PASOK the last decades is demolished and signals the upcoming of a mass rebel against totalitarian regimes and economic fascism.

    I write these words also to the greek people living in foreign counties, that greek people are still fighting for the same ideas about freedom, solidarity and peaceful being. You greek people of DIASPORA can be proud of greek people in Greece nowadays. They are not seduced by the sirens of modern cynicism and demoralization. We believe in humanitarian principles for us and for all people. That’s why we fight.

    Fellow Europeans, join us!

    • Whoever is offended by the strong language, he/she remember that respect in dialogue, democracy, and the will of people should have been remembered when the “greek” parliamentarians were voting memorandum I and II. People who have abolished respect to the these principles can not recall them now!

      Ή θα έχετε ησυχία ή θα έχετε Δημοκρατία – Θουκιδίδης

  9. The confederation overshot. People imagining a European federal state forget that a state must have a head and this head must speak to citizenry and speeches must be made in a language and the question is: which one?

    So, the sensible thing to make is to cure the overhang and to ask: which futures for the EU and the EMU?

    Contrary to popular belief the future of these organisations does not need to be disintegration. Actually, the sustainability for these organizations presents no threats if it is recognized that the adequate level of political integration for Europe is a community of sovereign states. Under this view there is ample room for the European institutions to produce win-win synergies in key areas:

    – Security
    – Energy
    – Knowledge

    Leading to growing prosperity of nations.

    A question worrying people is what to do with the “Union” idea? To substitute it by “Community”? That signals a backward move, therefore it appears unpalatable to decision makers.

    A sensible thing to do is nothing. Let the word “Union” subsist and manage the real thing as a “Community”. People are too much concerned about the disasters provoked by the “Union” to question words.

    The obvious crucial goal is to enact equilibrating growth all over the EMU – and the EU.

    To this end the Eurosystem can be changed from a single currency system to a multi-national currency system by creating full sovereign euro denominated currencies in existing unoccupied currency codes: Euro-this, Euro-that, … – the Euronationals.

    This change presents no risks for continuity of operations of the ECB. In fact, it strengths the prospects for continuity as such a move would have the immediate effect of making all states solvent and of converting trillions of state debt in trillions of private savings completely protected from the side of the issuer’s solvency. Furthermore, the values of the Euronationals must tend to be constrained in a proportion of 1 to 2 as this approaches the proportion of minimum to maximum productivities. Therefore, protection in the form of expectable maximal devaluation should arise.

    Creating Euronationals requires setting reference values for future settling of real debts and credits among nations. This reference creation rule makes optimal for all nations to decouple of the single currency at the same date. Therefore there would be only one reference of value to be maintained, the actual Euro whose value would be frozen at D (decouple) Day.

    This way one would not be wasting the positive effects of a decades long integration efforts. Of course, equilibrating policies are required in the surplus and deficit countries. For real debts to be paid the relative surplus deficit situations must invert. The first must protect their export sector and boost imports from the seconds. These must protect their import sector and boost exports to the first.

    A multi-currency multi-national Eurosystem has the prospects of dissipating tensions inside EZ, and restore conditions for economic growth. The role of the ECB with such a system would be strengthened.and Europeans could aspire to be again at the forefront of civilizational development.

    • @PG

      Can you expand a little on the euronational currency thing ?Im a little confused.

      “such a move would have the immediate effect of making all states solvent and of converting trillions of state debt in trillions of private savings completely protected from the side of the issuer’s solvency. Furthermore, the values of the Euronationals must tend to be constrained in a proportion of 1 to 2 as this approaches the proportion of minimum to maximum productivities. Therefore, protection in the form of expectable maximal devaluation should arise.”
      Are you basically proposing the re-introduction of national currencies which would be semi-pegged,just like the old european exchange rate mechanism?If so,dont you think that pegging the currencies conflicts with “making all states solvent” as you say ?

  10. The proposal aims at reducing the interest costs for the GIPSIFs, which will achieve nothing, as proven by history. Because between 2001 and 2008, they got almost the same conditions as Germany. Did they make good use of this huge chance? No, quite the contrary. They used the money to delay necessary restructuring and to give away countless benefits.

    Also, I’m missing the part which explains how the GIPSIFs will become so competitive that they reach a significant primary and a current account surplus for a period long enought that they can “redeem these bonds in the fullness of time”.

    BTW, this is probably a stupid question, but why aren’t in state financing simple amortizing bonds the standard? If only interests are being paid, the debt can never go down.

  11. I fully agree with the above but it’s far too logical a plan for the technocrats/bureaucrats to execute. If they had this rare quality called COMMON SENSE we would not be where we are now.
    Thanks YV for your work and also thanks Yannis Aslanides for bringing this article to my attention.

  12. Dear Yani
    You have done it again, offering a Colombus egg solution! One though come into my mind: Is it only you that has the creative thinking capacity in all EU? Obviously not (although being your fan I tend to believe so). What is then preventing this and other suggestions that would certainly, if tried, bring some hope to the dying spirit of “Europe”?
    I think that it is worth identifying those deterrents as only if removed will allow ideas to be implemented. Hope dies int the Labyrinth of the EU Burreocracy, the mediocre level of representation, the deffending mechanisms of a politician-burreocrat class that is trying to surive and a mezmerized public prone to submit to the armchair rather than action.
    Nevertheless I do enjoy the inputs you provide and wish you all the best and do not stop for nothing!
    Best Regards
    Nikos

  13. Europe is not a family. European countries are neighbors. With your family you can have a joint bank account, with neighbors you can´t.

  14. We’re in a debt crisis because it was too easy (read: cheap) to take loans while at the same time the structural deficit of those countries requires constant capital inflow. You are proposing to make it easy again to take loans, albeit with a few strings attached. There’s always election time and enough reason for deficit spending. Taking Greece (and probably Portugal) apart, which are just plain bankrupt beyond hope, giving the deficit countries access to cheap money is not going to get them out of their deficit structure. Those countries need reform.

  15. The question is does the nice aunt really exist? And are we (the PIGS) realy regarded as nephews? In other words are there “family bonds” inside the Eurozone?

  16. Dear Yiani,

    I am very sorry to hear that you are finally leaving Greece, and for the particular reasons. Still, since I am in a similar position to you I have no right to criticise, only to say that you have the right to do what you consider best for you and your family.

    Now on the issue of European Federalism.
    Over the past 23 years since I left Greece I have lived in many countries, the last 8 in China. I have concluded that a politically united Europe is not a luxury but a NECESSITY.

    Naturally, one can bring up many arguments against this idea. Here are some of the most common ones:
    1. It is unfair to force an “artificial” integration to people that have not asked for it.
    2. We are all too different culturally and have no reason to unite into one country
    3. The rich countries should not pay for the poor
    4. It is not right to try to make every one “the same”.
    5. We have more to gain from “competition between flexible, innovative, equals” than from creating an inflexible, bureaucratic centralized dinosaur. (this is a favourite anglo-saxon argument!)
    6. The EU is undemocratic
    7. This can only be done when all countries have reached the same level of development.

    All of the above have strong emotional appeal and there is even some truth in them. However, looking at European integration from the point of “fairness” or “naturalness” misses the point. Fairness can be achieved in small of large countries. What is a “natural” criterion for defining national boundaries is neither fixed nor clearly defined.

    The right way to look at this, in my view, is through the question of what is “useful” in bringing greater prosperity and happiness to the citizens of our continent.

    In the world of the future SIZE MATTERS. Our countries are too small to be able to fight the global battles of the future, even Germany has insignificant power compared to that of China today (and will have even less so in the future).
    We need to unite in order to achieve the critical mass required to survive and prosper independently and with dignity, while maintaining our values and way of life. So the goal must be an integrated (Federal) state.

    All the usual objections are, in my view, real issues. But they should not be arguments for or against the Federal goal, just problems that need to be resolved on the way there.

    This crisis is also a unique opportunity to move forward with the European project and, in so doing, build the foundations for a better future for our children. We can take it or we can leave it – to our peril.

    ‘Αγις

  17. taking inspiration from your title “European unhappy family” , i recall something i have read in the past about the problems of the american family and the stabilization power of TV. In other words a psychiatrist had stated that if american TV was banned for a week, murders between family members would have skyrocketed, acknowledging that their co-existence is unbearable.

    A parallelism with european situation would be like all family members consume anti-depressings and but money run out and only one member of the family has money for valiums .

    Any resemblance to real persons or states are purely coincidental. There is absolutely no logical base to correlate the above situation to states or inter-state relations. Probably the opposite would be true. Don’t take drugs, they do not suffice for everybody:)

  18. At last, i totally agree with the way your three points are expressed. Free from academic rigidness. I am not very fond of the examples you used to surround your key points because they may take different interpretations with regard to subjective experiences ( divorces, family, aunts). But generally definitely positive as a whole and much more appropriate for larger audiences.
    These three points are exactly the points that the wider public audience will be hooked and trigger further examination.
    My personal opinion is to add one more point separating your type of euro-bond from others (if asked) because people have become afraid of complex financial constructs and eurobonds as a term has bad reputation.

  19. Hi Yanis, thank you so much for your great work!
    Just some reflections on your proposal above: it is true that in this way you eliminate the burden of surplus countries tax payers to pay for the indebted members bailout but, who will pay for the insurance of the quarrel couple? In other words, who will be the major contributors of the EFSF (soon ESM)? Surely, the surplus nations will contribute for a greater extent. And how much will be the cost of permanent insurance compared to the cost of eventual future bailouts (which are financed only partially by the surplus countries of Europe)?

    Thank you, have a great night.

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