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Cyprus Will Lead The Eurozone Prison Break

"Cyprus's economy will now go through a long and painful period of adjustment. But then it will pay back the loan when it is on a solid economic foundation."
---Wolfgang Schaeuble, German finance minister

Anglophone economists have been advocating euro exit for the peripheral eurozone economies since the crisis began three years ago. They have recommended exit because “internal devaluation” is vastly more destructive than external devaluation, and because these countries need inflation, not deflation. The counter-argument from Europe has been that exit would cause chaos plus the threatened loss of official flows. Countries cut off from the EU’s largesse would supposedly be forced to balance their current accounts overnight. It is also argued that, as the new currency depreciates, external debt denominated in euros would grow in both nominal and real terms.

The European arguments against exit are self-serving: creditors never advise their clients to walk away from their debts. The more debt that Europe can pile onto these countries, the more likely that the flows will reverse, and the greater the advantages of default. All of the peripherals should have left the euro when the crisis began, before incurring enormous debts and inflicting penury on themselves for no reason. In the end, all of the peripherals will be forced by their indebtedness to leave the euro, unless the ECB is willing to open the monetary floodgates immediately. All of the unemployment and national bankruptcy being incurred now is waste. In the end, the peripherals will have to suffer both the pain of both internal devaluation and of euro exit and default.

The wanton destructiveness of this process is deeply disheartening. Millions of lives are being ruined on the altar of a half-baked idea, the notion of Europe as a "country". It is a bit ironic that capitalist Europe achieved final victory over communism, only to stumble twenty years later due to internal contradictions. The internal contradiction is the Protestant belief that all countries need hard currencies, or should have them anyway even if they don’t need them.