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A Survival Strategy for the Eurozone

NEW YORK – After the Greek and Irish crises and the spread of financial contagion to Portugal, Spain, and possibly even Italy, the eurozone is now in a serious crisis. There are three possible scenarios: “muddle through,” based on the current approach of “lend and pray”; “break-up,” with disorderly debt restructurings and possible exit of weaker members; and “greater integration,” implying some form of fiscal union.

The muddle-through scenario – with financing provided to member states in distress (conditional on fiscal adjustment and structural reforms), in the hope that they are illiquid but solvent – is an unstable disequilibrium. Indeed, it could lead to the disorderly breakup scenario if institutional reforms and other policies leading to closer integration and restoration of growth in the eurozone’s periphery are not implemented soon.