NEW YORK – Whether the eurozone is viable or not remains an open question. But what if a breakup can only be postponed, not avoided? If so, delaying the inevitable would merely make the endgame worse – much worse.
Germany increasingly recognizes that if the adjustment needed to restore growth, competitiveness, and debt sustainability in the eurozone’s periphery comes through austerity and internal devaluation rather than debt restructuring and exit (leading to the reintroduction of sharply depreciated national currencies), the cost will most likely be trillions of euros. Indeed, sufficient official financing will be needed to allow cross-border and even domestic investors to exit. As investors reduce their exposure to the eurozone periphery’s sovereigns, banks, and corporations, both flow and stock imbalances will need to be financed. The adjustment process will take many years, and, until policy credibility is fully restored, capital flight will continue, requiring massive amounts of official finance.